If your ex-spouse or partner isn’t meeting his or her child support obligations, it can place a substantial burden on you and your family. You alone will be trying to support your children when your ex doesn’t pay, and this can get very difficult rather quickly. Here’s what you should know if your ex stops paying child support.
Plan ahead as much as you can
Since you know there will be less money coming into your household for now, make the necessary adjustments to your spending habits. By stretching out your budget further, you can help reduce the impact of the lost income. Make more meals at home, for example, if you tend to order out, and eliminate unnecessary services for now, such as additional channels on your cable or the service itself. Look closely at your spending to see where you can save money so you have what you need for the big expenses, such as shelter, food and clothing. If you’re really stuck, consider asking friends and family for help. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but chances are they’ll understand and really want to help you and your children through this tough time.
Make sure there’s a formal agreement
If you didn’t get a child support order through the court or as a part of your divorce settlement, it’s time to consider it. You want an agreement in writing or an order from a court so there is something to legally enforce. Without any documentation of your ex’s support obligation, you won’t have any avenues to recover what’s owed.
Try talking to your ex
Speak to your ex about why he or she is no longer paying support if possible. You don’t have to, but sometimes this works faster than a collection effort and that’s in the best interest of your kids. In situations where your former spouse or partner is usually good about paying the support, you may want to work out a partial payment plan for now, especially if you know your ex recently lost his or her job or experienced another financially disastrous event, like a long illness.
It’s usually wise to avoid trying to talk it over if you know your ex isn’t being honest about his or her finances, there’s a history of deceit in general, of if there’s a pattern of any abuse. If talking works and you do agree on changes to an existing agreement, make sure it’s all spelled out and approved by a judge. This way, you’ll have something established to work off of should the agreement need to be modified again later.
Contact the Child Support Enforcement Division
In New Mexico, the Child Support Enforcement Division can help you with getting a child support order, child support collection and enforcement of a child support order. This agency also has tools to help with enforcement of child support orders, such as the interception of your ex’s tax return refund, withholding from his or her wages, the suspension of his or her professional license, and the denial of a passport. However, note that the agency does charge fees for the establishment of the support obligation and the enforcement actions taken on an order, as covered on its official website (http://www.hsd.state.nm.us/LookingForAssistance/fees.aspx).
Speak to an attorney
An experienced family law attorney can help you draft or change an agreement or get it enforced. Since these agreements will affect your rights regarding child support, having legal help by your side can help ensure that the best interests of your children are taken into account. Review your agreement with your attorney carefully to make sure everything has been addressed.