My ex-spouse is not paying child support. What can I do?
Atlanta, GA family law attorney Regina I. Edwards talks about what is required to pay for child support so you don’t end up in jail.
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A lot of people want to know what happens when I get a court order and the other side isn’t following it? Well, when that happens, if it’s something like child support or alimony where it’s clear someone’s supposed to pay x amount of dollars on x date every single month, it’s very easy. If that person falls behind, we file what’s called a contempt motion. So in that contempt motion we just have to prove two things, one, that there’s a valid court order and two, that that order has not been followed. From there, the burden shifts to the paying party to show that there’s a complete inability to pay not that they paid all their other bills and ran out of money and just didn’t pay their child support or alimony.
What I always tell people that call me when they’re faced with contempt actions is child support and alimony is the first bill that you pay because it’s the only bill if you don’t pay you can go to jail for. So in order to avoid a finding of contempt you have to prove that you have exhausted all of your resources. You have sold cars, you have done title ____, you’ve sold blood and organs. You have to exhaust all of your resources before a court will find that you are unable to pay.
So a lot of times it really just requires someone adjusting their budget and eliminating unnecessary expenses so they can afford the only bill that they’re required to pay, which is child support and alimony. If there is a true defense to contempt someone is medically unable to pay because they were in a car accident there are ways to avoid incarceration. Sometimes a parenting plan is in order, sometimes the other party may agree to suspend support but it’s really important to talk to an attorney about your options But my general advice for avoiding contempt is do whatever is humanly necessary to pay the order on time.