My Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support. What Can I Do?
The process of divorce is not an easy one, especially when there are children involved. In some family dynamics dad works and mom stays home and care for the kids and household. So when a divorce occurs, mom is often left out in the cold. With no skills, work history or experience and mouths to feed, how is a divorced mother expected to make the ends meet every month? Child Support ordered by the Court should be the answer, but in so many instances the child support system does not work. Deadbeat dads do not pay their court ordered child support and seem to go unpunished. What can be done to make sure that a parent pays their child support that is so desperately needed? The Family Law division of Jones Brown Law is here to explain how child support is enforced and how past child support is collected in the state of Oklahoma. Remember that the laws may differ from state to state concerning child support so feel free to contact the Law Offices of Jones Brown Law and let one of our experienced attorneys help you no matter what your location in the U.S. is.
Child Support in Oklahoma:
In Oklahoma when parents decide to divorce or separate, one parent -usually the noncustodial parent or parent with less parenting time- will typically be obligated to make support payments to the other parent, considered to be the custodial parent). Many factors come into play when dealing with child support and the court determination of just how much is to be paid and by whom. Oklahoma courts use state child support guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of support that is to be paid. These state guidelines consider both parents’ incomes as well as the number of children involved, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.
In Oklahoma, child support must be collected by income assignment. That means that the non-custodial parent’s income must be garnished to collect the amount of child support ordered by a Judge. This process can only be avoided if a parent can show the court that there is good cause to waive income assignment or if both parents agree to waive it.
If you and your significant other have decided to separate and not divorce, the parents can agree on a child support amount in a separation agreement, or the court may establish an amount to be paid. Remember that the court must then make the support obligation part of a court order due to the fact that there must be an official court detailing the child support for said details to be enforceable by a judge.
Enforcing Child Support
When it comes to child support there are several methods that will help to enforce child support orders and collecting payments that are past due.
- Parents may go to court – preferably with the help of an experienced family law attorney – and ask that a judge enforce a child support order and order any additional methods that are aimed at collecting payments.
- Parents can go to their local child support enforcement office and ask for help.
Contempt of Court
If the “non-custodial” or “paying parent” (parent ordered to pay) fails to make his or her payments, the parent receiving support, or his or her attorney, may request that the non-custodial parent be held in “contempt of court.” Simply put this means a judge will punish the non-custodial parent for disobeying the court’s order to pay their child support. How do you get this done? The custodial parent can begin by filing a motion (written legal request) and asking a judge to order the non-custodial parent to appear in court and explain why he or she hasn’t paid their child support. Both parents have the right to an attorney, so by all means utilize that right and find an experienced family law attorney like Jones Brown Law. If you are not ato sble ecure an attorney to represent you most courts have the motion forms you need available on their websitefs or those who want to represent themselves.
Your local district attorney may also file a motion on behalf of the state to bring the parent that is not paying their support before the court and ask for a contempt of court finding. This proceeding is also used to encourage the parent to pay the overdue support. A contempt finding may result in fines and even jail time. The court will consider all the circumstances of the case, including any previous contempt findings, when determining the length of the jail sentence or amount of the fine.
Support contempt findings are usually a civil action, but is not like other debt collection matters, because it could result in a potential jail sentence. If a parent is held in contempt, he or she may receive a jail sentence, which usually range between 30 to 90 days. The purpose of the jail sentence is to encourage the parent to make their payments, so it may be made possible for the delinquent parent to get out of jail by paying an agreed-upon amount of his or her child support amount owed. If the paying parent is severely behind in payments, he or she could face criminal contempt charge, such a charge could be treated as a misdemeanor or even a felony and carries with it harsher consequences including up to four years in jail and a $5000 dollar fine.
Other Methods of Enforcement
In Oklahoma, courts and the local Department of Human Services, often refereed to as “DHS,” may use the following enforcement methods to encourage parents to pay child support and collect overdue payments:
- License suspension. State identification cards or driver’s licenses, including commercial licenses, may be suspended or revoked
- Income tax refunds. “DHS” can intercept federal and state income tax refunds and use the money to pay child support.
- Bank account or property attachments. “DHS” has the ability to take funds from financial accounts and attach liens on a persons property.
- Withholding orders. “DHS” may garnish or seize the non-custodial parent’s income, retirement or disability benefits, or even lottery winnings.
What Can Jones Brown PLLC Do For You?
Child Support obligations are calculated using a states statutory child support formula. When there is a significant change in one parent’s income, or when there is a change in the percentage of time each parent spends with the child, it may be necessary to adjust the existing child support order in order to increase or decrease support obligations. Changes in financial circumstances could include:
- A parent loses his or her job or suffers a permanent cut in hours
- A parent is promoted or is hired for a higher-paying job
- A parent regularly receives overtime pay
- The child’s financial needs increase due to disability or other special circumstance
- Day care expenses change (such as when child care is no longer needed)
We can help you collect unpaid child support obligations if you meet the following qualifications:
- Over $5,000 in Child Support Owed to You
- Existing Child Support Order from an State of Administrative Court
- Must have Ex-Spouse’s (other parent) current home and work address
- Ex-Spouse (other parent) must have a steady job or other income
Our attorneys will take the time necessary to really learn your situation so that we can pursue a modified arrangement or court order that suits your needs and the needs of your children. CLICK HERE to contact the Law Offices of Jones Brown.