What to Do If Your Spouse Stops Paying Spousal or Child Support

During a divorce, California courts often order one ex to pay the other spousal support or child support. Spousal support payments are intended to help a disadvantaged divorcee (for example, if you have put your career aside for many years to care for the home and family while your spouse has been the breadwinner) maintain their lifestyle and continue to live comfortably. Meanwhile, child support is generally paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to mitigate the expenses of raising the child. 

If your ex has been court ordered to pay spousal or child support, this money will likely be an important piece of your budget in your new household. If they don’t pay, it can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you were depending on the payment to make your rent or to pay for your child’s back-to-school supplies. So if they stop paying, how should you proceed? Read on for tips about how spousal and child support can be enforced in California.

Make sure the support is court-ordered.

If you only made a verbal agreement with your ex that they would pay support, you might not have legal grounds for enforcing it. In this case, you will need to petition for a support order from the court. This will only be successful if the judge determines that it is in your child’s best interest to approve.

File a motion for contempt of court.

When the court has ordered that your spouse pay a certain amount of support and they fail to do so, they may actually be breaking the law. The way you let the court know is by filing a motion for contempt of court. Your ex can be penalized in many ways, including possible jail time, but it is more likely that they will be asked to comply and informed that they are subject to court action if they do not. Their property could be sold to pay support, their wages could be withheld, or the money may be garnished from their bank account. 

Don’t give up when your child turns 18.

Even after the child becomes a legal adult, the payor parent is still required to pay any amount that was overdue. They will not accrue any more missed payments, but you can still enforce the court orders for what they were supposed to pay and haven’t.

Not having the money is not an excuse!

If your ex claims he or she is too broke to pay the court ordered support, you don’t have to accept them at their word. If you can prove in court that he or she is able to pay what is owed, then he or she may be held in contempt. 

Contact an experienced California family lawyer.

An attorney can help you properly file your motion for contempt or your request for support. If your motion for contempt is successful, the delinquent parent might be required to pay your attorney fees related to enforcing the court order. To learn more about spousal and child support and how we can help you with this and other family law matters, contact KL Family Law.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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