Divorce can be stressful enough. And then to have to deal with an ex who no longer makes (or never made) child support payments, your initial reaction might be to take him or her to court. You may be struggling with your finances and having a hard time making ends meet. Furthermore, you’re probably angry about how unfair it is that your ex is not doing what he or she was ordered to do. Don’t let your anger push you to do things that will only worsen your situation.
Keep Detailed Records
Keeping a detailed record and documenting the child support you receive from the party the court ordered to pay it is essential. Even though keeping track of all of your child support payments is likely one of the last things you have time for while you’re going through a divorce, you must be committed and diligent in your record keeping. You should not rely upon a third party to do this; you should keep accurate records of when you receive support and how much you get.
You may opt for an Income Withholding For Support Order (IWO), which is designed to help make child support payments easier to deal with. The IWO takes the child support out of the noncustodial parent’s paycheck automatically, submits it for processing, and delivers the check to you. This way, your child support payments are delivered on time and without issue.
A common complaint with an IWO is that a service fee must be paid to use this method, much like a service fee you’d be charged for using credit cards. In this instance, the parent paying the child support would pay for the service fees and not the parent receiving the support.
However, child support attorneys have seen instances far too often where the IWO clerk’s records do not match the child support actually received by their clients, and mistakes have been made. If you are involved in any type of child support proceeding, you are well-advised to make sure to document the check, cash, or any other form of child support received.
This means doing things like taking a picture of the check you received, keeping statements from the bank account where you deposit the checks, and maintaining an organized chart or list, which details explicitly all of the payments you received and when you received them. Although it might seem like a lot of work, in the end, it will likely save you time and money.
Other Important Steps to Take
Above and beyond record keeping, you should take these steps, as well:
- Check out what your court order says
- Figure out what’s happening
- Come up with a plan to tackle your financial problems
- Investigate your options
- Talk to a child support lawyer
Running into court before you’ve consulted with a divorce attorney and really understanding what you’re doing could cost you more money than what was lost in support. Do your due diligence before you head to court, as our divorce lawyer friends at Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC would agree with, and you’ll have a much-improved chance at seeing real success.