Articles Tagged with Ukiah family law attorneys

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My ex-spouse will not pay child support. Child support is not supposed to be a voluntary commitment for divorced parents. Courts often order one parent to make payments to the ex-spouse who is primarily raising their children, for the express purpose of supporting those children. However, sometimes the parent falls behind and does not meet their child support obligations. There are many reasons why this would happen, such as loss of employment, illness or injury, or simple laziness. But no matter the reason, the parent who should be on the receiving end of the child support will want to know how to get the money they are owed.

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How to Get an Ex-Spouse to Pay Child Support

There are a variety of ways a parent can go about compelling their ex-spouse to pay their court-ordered child support. Among the possible courses of action are the following:

1.    Enter into a private agreement with your ex-spouse: If your ex-spouse genuinely cannot make the court-mandated child support payments, whether due to lack of income, illness, or injury, you can always work out a private agreement that reduces or suspends the payments while your ex tries to get back on their feet. Family courts will generally allow these side agreements and will refrain from enforcing their own orders while the private contract is in effect. However, you should be clear with both your ex and the court that, if the ex does not resume making payments when they are supposed to, you will go back to court to force them to do so. You will probably want to hire a family law attorney to draft an agreement of this sort.

2.    Go to mediation: If you want to address the child support issue in a formal setting without actually going to court, mediation might be a good route. Mediation is less adversarial and less expensive than family court, which is why more and more couples are using this option. Agreements reached in mediation can be more flexible and creative than court-ordered remedies. There are probably a number of licensed mediators in your area, and you can usually get a list from your local court.

3.    Take your ex-spouse to court: This is the most drastic, but probably also the most effective, of your options. You can hire a lawyer and return to family court for a contempt proceeding against your ex-spouse. If you can show that your ex is not meeting their court-ordered obligations, the court will try to find a way to compel them to pay the child support. One way the court may do this is through wage garnishment, where a percentage of the person’s wages are automatically diverted to the court and then to you. Many divorced parents hesitate to take their ex-spouses to court any more often than they have to, but if the well-being of your children is at stake, it may be the only viable alternative.

What to Do if Your Ex-Spouse Will Not Pay Child Support

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Can we all agree that fathers who do not have custody of their children have an obligation to support the kids through paying child support? The amount of child support each parent has to pay is generally set by a family court, with the judge factoring in each parent’s income, among other things. When fathers refuse to pay child support over a long period of time, they can be punished by being sent to jail. This is generally a last resort, after wage garnishment and other methods fail to exact the money the children need.

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But what can we make of a father who pays all of the child support he owes, but still winds up in jail? That is exactly what happened last November to a father in Houston, Texas. According to the father, the court increased his child support obligations without notifying his employer. As a result, his wage garnishments did not cover the full amount he owed in child support. His attorney claims that this was the result of an administrative error by the court, and meant that the deductions from the father’s paycheck were inconsistent and erratic.

Judge Sentenced Father to Jail for Contempt

When the mother’s attorney informed the father that he owed $3,000 in back child support, his lawyer initially advised him not to pay it, believing it was excessive. In addition, the mother claimed that the father was not complying with the court’s scheduled times to pick up their son for visitations. The father again stated that he knew nothing about this modification by the court. When he became aware of the discrepancy between the amount owed and the wage garnishments, the father went ahead and paid the nearly $3,000.

By the time the father appeared in court in November, his payments were caught up. But the mother’s attorney brought up the visitation times issue, and also demanded that the father pay $3,000 in attorney fees. The judge apparently agreed with the mother’s side of the story, and held the father in contempt. The father then walked out of the courtroom, further angering the judge. The judge ultimately sentenced the father to six months in jail.

Jail Sentence Is Consistent with New Texas Statute

Until last year, Texas law prevented a parent from being jailed for not paying child support if the parent was paid up at the time of the hearing. However, the Texas legislature recently repealed that provision, giving judges the discretion to punish repeat offenders. The repeal was intended to prevent delinquent parents from waiting until the day before a hearing to pay up on child support. The father in this case, who had been jailed in the past for failure to pay child support, was perceived by the judge to be a repeat offender, and therefore was put in jail in accordance with the law.

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