What Are My Rights If the Other Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?
If the other parent fails to pay child support, you would have the right to file a violation petition. That’s usually done in Family Court. If it’s pursuant to a settlement agreement that was drawn up in a divorce case, I usually advise my clients to send what’s called a default notice letter before they file something in Family Court.
The default notice letter would say something to the effect of, “pursuant to our agreements you were obligated to pay X amount in child support and you stopped paying it for no good reason. So please start paying again and catch up with your payments or else.” The “or else” is that we would go to the Family Court, and you would usually give them 30 days to respond.
Bear in mind you don’t necessarily have to send a default notice letter unless your settlement agreement says that you are obligated to send a default notice letter. But unless there is a real emergency or urgent need to get child support enforced within a month or so then I would advise a client to send that default notice letter because that would set up a claim to counsel fees if the other side does not respond and remedy the situation.
Do I Have the Right to Know What The Child Support I Am Paying For Is Going Towards?
The answer is no. Child support law simply doesn’t work like that.
In theory, while the parties are going through a child support proceeding through discovery, both sides are entitled to know what the other side’s expenses are. Each party is required to submit a statement. In a Family Court case it’s called a “financial disclosure affidavit,” and in a divorce case it’s called a “net worth statement.” In those two documents, both sides are required to list their expenses and you could be required to document or corroborate those expenses. Oftentimes parties are required to produce bank account statements, credit card statements and the like. In this way, each side would be entitled to know how the other side is spending money. That’s the only stage in the process at which you would have access to that information. Otherwise, it’s not as though merely because you’re paying child support you can somehow police how that money is spent. For example, you have no right as a non-custodial parent to contact the custodial parent and say, “I don’t think you should be taking the child to an expensive play with my child support money.”
In a given case, it may be that a non-custodial parent notices that the child isn’t being provided adequate clothes or learns that the child is not being properly fed or learns that the house that the child is being provided with their child support money is grossly inadequate for the child. However, that’s more of a custody issue than it is a child support issue. That’s not an issue that would allow them to file a modification of child support petition – instead they would be advised to file a modification of custody petition.
Can I Stop Paying Child Support If My Ex Does Not let Me See the Children?
The answer is no. The only thing that you can do is file a modification application of child support as well as an enforcement petition regarding visitation, assuming you have a visitation order already in place. Obviously if one did not, then the remedy would be to file a petition to get a visitation order.
Within the child support case you would have the ultimate burden of proving that the other parent, the custodial parent, has willfully violated your visitation rights – in which case the court can consider that as a factor in either reducing or eliminating child support at least during periods of time that the visitation rights were violated. I don’t recall ever seeing a reported case in which a court outright terminated child support and in effect said the mother or the custodial parent could not reapply for child support. It would clearly be against what’s called public policy to outright eliminate child support, even in that scenario.
If My Ex Fails to Pay Child Support Can I Stop Him from Seeing the Children?
No, under no circumstances can the custodial parent withhold access rights especially if they’ve already been established. They would be violating a court order themselves. In a scenario where child support is not being paid, your remedy is to go into court on a violation case.
My Income Is Based on Bonuses and Commissions. Will the Court Take This into Account in Determining Child Support Payments?
The answer is yes. In a nutshell, all income counts for child support purposes. So even a bonus – even something that most people would not traditionally think of as income – nevertheless is considered income for child support purposes. Among other things, if somebody is receiving rental income, annuity payments, retirement income, or veterans’ benefits – all of that counts for income purposes.
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