We’ve all heard the stories of someone who hasn’t paid child support, and we’ve also all heard the excuses why the party owed child support hasn’t gone back to court. Concerns about encouraging the other side to go after custody or the expense of court action are the reasons that I hear most frequently, but what are the basic facts around collecting unpaid child support?
First it is important to know what things lawyers can do to collect on unpaid child support. There are several ways to collect child support but not all are always right for each case. They can vary based on whether the non-paying parent has a job or bank accounts. If the answer is yes, it is possible to take money directly from your ex’s paycheck, which is called an Income Withholding Order. An Income Withholding Order is by far the most common way to collect money from someone who is employed and receiving a paycheck. If your ex has bank accounts but you are not sure about their job or they are self-employed, the best option may be a Garnishment. A Garnishment is when you take money directly from your ex’s bank account. While these things are both typically done by an attorney, it is possible to do them without an attorney.
If your ex is able to pay, but refusing to do so, additional steps may be required. An attorney can help you ask the court to hold your ex in contempt of court. Because you will need to provide evidence that your ex is financially capable of paying support but refused to do so, you should use a lawyer to help you in this kind of process.
While interest can be assessed, DON’T wait too long to act! In Missouri, each individual child support payment is presumed paid and satisfied ten years after payment is due. That does not mean that the entire judgment is satisfied. That means, if a party seeking a past due child support payment due October of 2020 is barred from collecting that payment as of October 2030. That does not mean however that the payment of November 2030 is no longer collectable however and there are many things that can restart that date. If that is the case, you should discuss your case with a good family law attorney.
The takeaway here is that figuring out the amount of money you are due can be extremely complicated before you start counting interest, particularly when payments have been inconsistent. An experienced family law attorney will figure out what is due, a strategy for collection, and ensure you are not prohibited from receiving past due payments.