If your ex stops making child support payments, it can be a difficult and frustrating experience. You may feel like you’re unable to provide for your child since the expenses related to raising a child certainly don’t stop just because you haven’t received your child support check yet. Or you may simply feel resentful that your ex is not fulfilling their court-ordered obligations while you continue to do everything necessary to ensure your child has what they need. Rest assured, there are steps you can take to ensure that you receive the child support payments your ex is ordered to pay to ensure your child has the benefits of the support from both parents.
In South Carolina, child support is typically paid through the state’s Child Support Disbursement Unit. If your ex stops making payments, the Family Court Clerk of Court, once notified of the arrearage owed, may take a number of actions to collect the delinquent payments, including getting an order for wage withholding, intercepting their tax refunds, and/or requesting to suspend their driver’s licenses.
There is a downside to waiting on the Clerk of Court to act on your behalf, however. The longer you wait to take action, the more delinquent payments will accrue, and the harder it may be to collect all of the money that is owed. If you find yourself in this situation, consider reaching out directly to your ex to inquire about why the payments are late. If the two of you are able to come to an agreement on how to handle the arrearage, be sure to reduce it to writing with signatures by both of you. This will help document the agreement for the Court if your ex receives a notice from the Court to explain why the payments are behind or late.
If your ex pays child support directly to you, however, the Clerk of Court will not be aware of any delinquency unless you bring this issue to the Court’s attention. In these cases, it’s best to reach out to your ex first to try to determine why they are late with their payment. If there is a way to come to any agreement on how to handle payments for the payor to get “caught up,” just make sure the agreement is reduced to writing and is dated and signed by both parties.
If your ex won’t discuss options to catch up on the support payments with you or explain why the payments are late and you’re not in a position to wait for the Court to take action for you, you always have the option of hiring an attorney to file a Rule to Show Cause against your ex. This is a formal way to ask the court to enforce your current child support order. If your case is successful and your ex is found in willful contempt of court, they may be required to pay a court fine along with their arrearages. The Court may even require your ex to cover all or some of your attorney fees for having to hire an attorney to bring them into compliance with the court order. If this isn’t the first time they have fallen behind in their financial obligations to your children, the Court may decide to sentence them to jail.
While this may sound harsh, the court’s primary concerns are the well-being of children and ensuring that its orders are followed. The reality is that most of the time when a payor is put in jail for willfully violating a court order, they somehow “magically” come up with the missing money to catch up on their delinquent payments. The Family Court and legislators who are tasked with creating the rules for child support payments have learned that the possibility of jail time can be a very good (and sometimes the only) motivator to encourage some parents to meet their court-ordered obligations.
If you’re facing the challenge of your ex not paying court-ordered child support, know that you have options and resources available to you. For more information on South Carolina child support, visit the State Disbursement website or speak with one of our attorneys, who can explain which options for enforcing your child support order are best for your situation.
If you’re struggling with issues surrounding child custody or need help finding the best ways to build a cooperative parenting agreement with your co-parent, talking with an experienced family court attorney will help. If you’re in South Carolina, contact a trusted family law attorney like Ben Stevens today to discuss your specific situation. Even if you aren’t in South Carolina, Mr. Stevens is happy to offer referrals to a well-qualified attorney located in your state.
Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and he is a Board-Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, or other family law case, contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule a consultation.
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Author: J. Benjamin Stevens
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the charlotte observer and Mike Hunter.
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