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10 Important Questions About Collecting Child Support, Answered by a Family Lawyer


October 7, 2019 | Comments (0)

Child support is court-ordered payments, normally required from a noncustodial parent as part of a divorce or legal separation process, for the financial support of a minor child, intended to protect a child from the financial ramifications of his or her parents’ separation or divorce.

The support is for use to provide a child with necessities such as food, shelter, education and childcare, and nonessentials that the child was accustomed to as part of his or her lifestyle while the parents were married.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Collecting Child Support

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions divorced and separated parents have about collecting child support payments that the court has ordered their ex-spouses to pay them.

1. What is the best way to ensure that my ex pays child support payments consistently?

It is recommended that, at the time of your divorce, you request that child support payments be paid through your state’s child support collections agency. The state agency has various means of collecting delinquent child support, including wage garnishment and potential arrest. Leaving the responsibility for managing child support payments with the state relieves you from the risk of dealing with any issues that may ever arise regarding collecting payments consistently.

2. Am I required to have child support payments handled through the state?

Ask your attorney if you are required to have child support payments managed by the state. If you are not required to do so but choose to, it will not reduce the amount that you may already be receiving under an informal agreement with your ex. Keep in mind that the court does not enforce a child support agreement made outside the court.

3. What are my options if my ex stops paying support?

File a petition regarding the violation in the court that ordered the child support payments, and ask the court to enforce the order. Take a copy of your original child support order handed down by the court with you when you appear before the judge. Going forward, ask to have your state’s child support agency handle collection of child support payments and disbursement to you. That will leave it to the state to handle any enforcement actions that may become necessary in the future.

4. Is it possible to have child support payments taken out of my ex’s paycheck?

A garnishment must be ordered by the court, in order to have child support withheld from paychecks. If your ex-spouse is failing to pay consistently, in compliance with the court’s order for child support, you can request that the court order wage garnishment. Employers are required to obey the court order for wage attachment for child support.

5. What can I do if I’ve never received any child support payments my ex was ordered to pay?

If the court-ordered your ex to pay child support payments directly to you, then you will need to go to the court that handed down the order and file the necessary papers notifying the court of the violation and asking the court to enforce the order. If the child support payments were to be sent to a state child support collection agency and disbursed to you by the agency, you need to contact the state agency.

6. If the state is not enforcing the child support order, how can I get it enforced?

If your ex-spouse is failing to pay child support payments and the state is not enforcing the court’s order for support, you can file a notification with the family court in your area regarding the violation and request enforcement of the child support order. See the family court’s website for downloadable forms, or ask the court to provide you with the correct forms to file.

7. Do I need to switch the child support order to my new state of residence?

Even if neither you and your child, nor your ex-spouse live in the state in which the court ordered child support, the existing court order remains in force. You do not need to do anything to involve the new state, unless you want to have the new state collect the payments. If you find that you need to modify your child support order at some point or enforce it, you can handle that in your new state of residence.

8. Will my ex get into legal trouble for not paying child support, if I don’t pursue it?

If your ex-spouse fails to pay court-ordered child support and you do not ask the court to enforce the order, you are free to withdraw your legal complaint. Doing so will discontinue the court’s involvement in your request to enforce child support payments. However, if a state agency that manages child support collection and disbursement is involved, then the enforcement situation is different. You will need to contact the state agency for information.

9. How can I enforce a court order for child support, if my ex has moved to a different state?

Your ex is legally required to comply with the court’s order for child support, regardless of where he or she lives and whether or not he/she exercises his/her rights under the child visitation order granted by the court. If your ex has relocated out of state and has discontinued paying child support payments, contact an attorney for help in pursuing appropriate collection actions.

10. Can I refuse child visitation, if my ex is not paying the child support required by the court?

Child support and child visitation are entirely separate legal matters. You cannot legally deny the child’s parent his or her right to visitation because of nonpayment of child support. Withholding child visitation is viewed by the court as custodial interference. If your ex-spouse is failing to pay child support payments, file a petition with the court, to notify the court of the violation and request enforcement of the support order.

Talk to a Family Lawyer About Child Support

We are a family law practice in Atlanta, Georgia. We help people in divorce, child support and other family court matters. For more information about your rights and alternatives in collecting child support, you can search ” family lawyer Atlanta,” or “child support Atlanta.” Or, contact Daniele Johnson & Associates, Atlanta GA at (770) 984-5311, to discuss your situation.

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