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When one parent fails to pay child support

You’ve won in court, you’ve gotten a divorce, you have custody of your child, and you now have a judgment in hand setting a decent child support amount for your child. 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?

When one parent fails to pay child support
5 minutes of reading

First: 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 a writ of execution. This term is just 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 stamped court order in your hand and your ex-partner refuses to pay the maintenance voluntarily, you can apply for enforcement.

What does foreclosure entail?

A foreclosure is actually another court proceeding, but in which you communicate with the bailiff, who collects the debt for you, rather than with the court. First, you have to describe all the necessary information to the bailiff such as who owes what and how much, providing supporting documents, and then waiting 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 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, the debtor must communicate and receive mail. It is always preferable (and cheaper) to cooperate and agree on repayments.

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.

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.

Child maintenance

We will arrange for a fair increase or modification of child support based on your current situation and the financial circumstances of you and the other parent of the child. We will use our knowledge and experience to prepare a motion that will have the highest chance of success. You can pay after the service has been provided.

I lost my job and now I can’t afford child support… What should I do?

Unfortunately, situations like this happen. 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 have a long-term illness or you’re even on disability, and your ex-husband is threatening you with execution of an enforcement order.

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 could not always count on a reduction.

However, if you did not cause the deterioration of the job, 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.

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 offense of child neglect, which carries a penalty of up to 3 years in prison (if it puts the child in danger of distress). This offense 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 being in prison.

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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.

  • 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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