Many parents rely on child support payments to help take care of their children. When ex-spouses stop paying child support, the custodial parent may suffer a lapse in income necessary to put food on the table and pay expenses.

A single parent in this situation may think they cannot force their ex-spouse to provide child support payments, but courts do have the authority to enforce child support orders. If the other parent does not make these payments, they are considered in arrears, meaning they owe back payments and must pay the full amount owed to the custodial parent.

Collecting child support

The custodial parent may ask a district attorney to meet with their ex-spouse to discuss the situation and set up a payment schedule. There are also options for collecting payment if the parent who owes money lives out of state. If that parent is under the jurisdiction of a different court, the custodial parent can ask the court to transfer the child support order.

Consequences for withholding child support

If one parent refuses to pay child support, they may experience far-reaching consequences. The Administration for Children and Families says child support officials can take away tax refunds if child support payments are in arrears. These officials may also garnish a parent’s wages or federal benefits. Missed child support payments can also affect credit scores and, over time, can result in losing occupational licenses or driver’s licenses, or make it difficult to get a passport.

Custodial parents have many options for getting the child support they need. If their ex-spouse is in arrears, an attorney can help explore all these options.