Do you know what steps to take if your former spouse misses a child support payment or fails to pay consistently?

Putting your family through a divorce is hard enough as it is. When your former spouse makes late child support payments—or fails to pay at all—it can put even more strain on an already challenging situation.

Your former spouse is legally obligated to make alimony and child support payments if it has been determined by contracts in court. This fact can be daunting when you need money and don’t want to get involved in another legal battle.

However, you must press ahead and do all you can to ensure that your former spouse will pay on time. Here are some steps you can take to receive the compensation legally owed to you.

Find out the cause of the missed or late payment

Before taking any serious action, it’s a good idea to try to figure out what happened (if possible). For example, the other party may have suffered an injury or lost their job. You could look at situations like this a bit differently, even though they are still failing their obligation. Before taking legal action, always try to come to an agreement about how to resolve the situation.

Before taking any serious action, it’s a good idea to try to figure out what happened (if possible). For example, the other party may have suffered an injury or lost their job. You could look at situations like this a bit differently, even though they are still failing their obligation. Before taking legal action, always try to come to an agreement about how to resolve the situation.

However, it is always possible that your former spouse is purposely trying to avoid making child support payments. If you suspect your former partner is coming up with excuses, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney. First, start documenting every communication you have, and make sure the other person knows the steps you are taking. Your former partner should know you aren’t afraid to return to court if necessary.

Mediation

Mediation is another option that avoids court. It can be a promising first step if this is isn’t a common or repeated behavior pattern from your ex-spouse. Mediation requires that a third party, a mediator, to intervene and act on behalf of both parties to come to an agreement. Attorneys may or may not be present.

This is often a good option if the level of conflict is still relatively low. Mediation can be an effective option if avoiding court fees and high emotions is a top priority. That said, it’s not free, and both parties have to agree to participate. Given the payment issues you may already be having, this option may not make sense.

Engage an attorney and go back to court

A family law attorney can assist you if this difficult situation arises and mediation was not successful. The next step in receiving the alimony you are owed is to return to family court. You’ll need to file a motion for contempt, and ask the court to enforce the order.

If you do return to court, remember that you’ll need to provide evidence of missed or late payments. Be prepared to show the judge how these missing funds are causing you and your family hardship.

Unfortunately, if your former spouse is consistently late paying child support, you may have to pursue a hearing in court. If the late payments continue, the judge may issue a charge of contempt. At this point, your former spouse will likely be ordered to pay for court costs. In extreme cases, they may even face additional fines or even jail time.

Filing a lawsuit

Another method to getting your former spouse to pay is to file a lawsuit wherein you make a complaint against them for failure to pay the child support. The issue may go to trial if the other person, who then becomes the defendant, responds to the complaint by requesting a trial.

Depending on the amount of money owed, lawsuits will either be in small claims or high court. Keep in mind that in a lawsuit, a judge may dismiss your case and recommend that you pursue your owed compensation through family or divorce court. Navigating spousal and late or unpaid child support problems is never easy. Fortunately, the Family Plan App can help families manage the legal process, scheduling, and payments all in one place. In other words, Family Plan leaves time for you to focus on what’s best for you and your children.