Collecting Overdue Child Support Payments

mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

I am looking for financial advice on divorce, specifically how to collect child support payments.

Per our divorce and child custody agreements, my ex-wife is expected to pay me child support once she finds a full-time job since I have primary physical custody.

The agreement states that if within a “reasonable amount of time” she did not find employment, her alimony would be used as income to determine how much child support she would have to pay.

What do the child support laws say about seeking these child support payments as I believe a reasonable amount of time has passed since it has been over one year?

Answer:

I am not licensed in your state so I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though.

Without seeing the specific provisions regarding recalculation of child support within your divorce decree, it is difficult to answer your question specifically.

Generally, however, in situations such as these you have several options to enforce the agreement in order to force your former wife’s compliance, as well as collect current and past-due child support.

You would do this by filing a Motion for Contempt/Enforcement in the circuit court where the dissolution was granted. This likely requires a $50 filing fee to reopen the case and file the motion; however, all filing fees are set by local rules and ordinances, so you will have to check with your particular clerk of court.

The Motion for Contempt/Enforcement would indicate that your wife has refused to comply with the provisions of the agreement, as she has not provided a list of employers and has failed to make child support payments.

Although a “reasonable” amount of time is certainly subject to differing standards of reasonableness, most judges or general magistrates would agree that the period of one year to find a job is a “reasonable” amount of time. The typical job hunt takes about six months.

Thus, your Motion for Contempt/Enforcement could include a count for child support arrearages, plus interest.

Finally, you may consider filing a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support. This petition also has a $50 filing fee to reopen the case. However, if you file the motion for contempt along with the supplemental petition you would only pay one fee.

A supplemental petition to modify child support requires both parties to complete financial affidavits and child support guidelines worksheets, as well as to comply with mandatory financial disclosure.

A modification of child support requires a substantial change in circumstances since the final judgment was entered. A substantial increase in the ability of the payor to make child support payments is considered such a change of circumstances.

In addition, most circuit courts require post-judgment modification cases to attend mediation.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Melissa Knight, an associate attorney in the Tampa, Florida, office, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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