When one parent fails to pay child support

You’ve won the court battle, you’ve gotten a divorce, you’ve got custody of your child, and you have a judgment in hand setting a decent child support award for your offspring. But the child support is not coming in, or is only coming in occasionally and not in the amount specified. What do you do about it?

Matka kontroluje účty a v pozadí si hraje dítě
5 minutes of reading

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It is necessary to have a final alimony judgment in hand

In order to enforce child support against the other parent, you will need to have what is known as an enforcement order. This term just means a final judgment. Whether you were married or unmarried, you will need the court to issue a judgment that clearly states how much your ex has to pay in child support and when. For minor children, child support is paid to the other parent, usually to the custodial parent. Child support is paid one month in advance. If you have a court-stamped judgment in your hand and your ex-partner refuses to pay the maintenance voluntarily, you can apply for enforcement.

What does an enforcement action involve?

A garnishment is actually another court proceeding, but you are communicating with the bailiff who is collecting the debt on your behalf rather than with the court. First, you have to describe all the necessary information to the bailiff – who owes what and how much, provide supporting documents, and then wait to see if the debt can be collected. The bailiff will issue an enforcement order and decide how to enforce the maintenance. The bailiff can garnish the non-paying parent’s account, have child support deducted from their wages, seize and sell their belongings, or even confiscate their driver’s license. Driver’s license seizure has been possible since 2013 and seems to be a pretty effective deterrent. However, it cannot be used in the case of professional drivers where the parent would actually lose their job.

For the non-paying parent, the enforcement mainly means that in addition to the maintenance debt itself, they will have to pay the costs of the enforcement, any costs for the parent’s solicitor who has had to contact the bailiff and, now, interest on late payments can be claimed. In any case, the execution will become more expensive. But once it happens, it is not an option for the debtor not to communicate and not to receive mail. It is always preferable (and cheaper) to cooperate and perhaps agree on repayments.

Tip: Execution on account is one of the relatively easy options for the bailiff to get to the recovered amount. This freezes the funds in the bank. How does this process work, to what extent is your disposal of your account restricted, how are family members’ bank accounts affected and when is your account unblocked again? We have addressed this in our separate article.

Can I recover future alimony in the foreclosure?

Yes. You can only apply for enforcement when a parent fails to pay on time and a debt is incurred. However, if there is already a debt, you can then ask the bailiff to also collect other current child support so that you don’t have to file more and more foreclosure motions every month.

Tip: Wondering what child support your child is entitled to? The calculators on the web can provide guidance, but you need to know what else plays a role in determining child support and how you can calculate it. We’ve put together a summary to help you navigate the situation.

Alimony/Child Support

We can ensure a fair increase or adjustment in your alimony/child support payments, taking into account the financial situation of each party. Our experience will ensure your proposal has the highest chance of success in court. You may pay after services are provided.

If I can’t afford alimony now… what do I do?

Unfortunately, these situations happen too. For example, you agreed to alimony in the divorce, the court approved the agreement, and you wanted to voluntarily pay. But the situation has changed, you can’t find a new job, you are long-term sick or even on disability, and your ex-husband is threatening you with execution. If you are really unable to pay maintenance for a longer period of time and are threatened with debt, you need to go to court and ask for a reduction in maintenance because of the change in circumstances. Be prepared for the court to look carefully at whether you are avoiding work and whether you may have deliberately left a well-paid job. All of this would be added to your burden and you would not be able to count on any reduction. However, if you did not cause the deterioration, you are trying to pay at least something, you are taking care of your children as you should, and you are solving your problems in a timely manner, you will have points in court. However, you should also take into account that if the court retroactively reduces the child support, what you have already paid extra for the child will not be refunded.

Tip: In late 2022, the Ministry of Justice introduced a new child support table. In connection with its publication, some of the principles for calculating child support have been slightly modified. So read on to find out how to calculate child maintenance in 2024.

Is there any point in filing a criminal complaint?

If your ex-partner owes you alimony, you have the option of contacting the police and filing a criminal complaint in addition to seeking enforcement . Failure to pay maintenance for more than 4 months can be a criminal offence of child neglect, which carries a penalty of up to 3 years in prison (if it puts the child in danger of distress). This offence is one of the most common, along with theft. And many parents do not even report their ex-partners to the police. The question is whether it makes sense. Sometimes the parent is frightened of prosecution and prefers to pay the debts (in which case there is usually no penalty). However, those who have not paid for a long time, or have even been convicted at some point, will probably not be deterred, as child support will not be paid, and the non-paying parent will certainly not earn it by staying in prison.

Up to two-thirds of criminal charges are dropped. So what is the correct procedure for filing a criminal complaint, who can file it, and what three things to look out for before doing so? We’ve covered this in our separate article.

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Alimony/Child Support

We can ensure a fair increase or adjustment in your alimony/child support payments, taking into account the financial situation of each party. Our experience will ensure your proposal has the highest chance of success in court. You may pay after services are provided.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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