Ask A Lawyer: She Is Not Paying Her Support

Question:

My ex wife is obligated to pay child support at miniumum wage. Dispite an open SAPCR that she’s filed over 21 months ago, she hasn’t (ever) paid child support.

The OAG has done little but blunder about and lose paperwork, and promise that "soon we’ll be in court", and has missed two opportunities to sieze a substantial tax return. Meanwhile, my ex lives in a house where the monthly lease alone exceeds minimum wage, drives a new car, etc. She refuses to disclose her earnings or her work location. I suspect that she’s earning money illegally.

Considering that I’m a custodial dad, I don’t want to anger the judge and lose custody over spite. How can I have the court impute her wages, and how can I collect the arrears on her obligation?

 

Answer:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/extinf.html

The link posted above is the Department of Health & Human Services website.  This is a page with a link to every State’s child support enforcement agency.  You want to make sure that you are using all the resources available to you to collect the arrears.  There are a lot of ways the state can collect an arrearage of child support.  Those amounts can be taken from a person’s income and withheld from his/her paycheck; it can come from a retirement account, investment account, and as you know, tax refunds. 

In some cases, the court can impose punitive measures for non payment of child support including driver’s license suspension, professional license suspension, flagging a passport, and some courts employ the criminal system to deal with nonpayment of child support.  It’s important that you confirm that you have employed the help of all the agencies available to you.  Go to the website above to confirm that.  These websites are full of information. 

In regard to the present child support amount as based on minimum wage, it sounds like you need to file for a modification.  When you do so, you can request that she produce certain documents including W-2s, paycheck stubs, bank records and other financial statements.  You’ll be able to use this information to prove that her income is above minimum wage.  Note that if she’s remarried, that’s a different situation.  A stepparent has no financial duty to support his/her stepchildren.  The stepparent’s income will not be considered for purposes of child support. 

 

Claudia J. Weaver is an Associate Attorney with Cordell & Cordell, P.C., in Overland Park, Kansas. Ms. Weaver practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations.

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