I know that Guyvorce is “supposed” to be geared towards men going through divorce, or have already gone through one. But this time, I’m speaking to the general audience, because this applies to everyone who goes through this part.
And believe me, a lot of people experience this problem.
Let’s just get down to brass tacks: you have custody of the kids. A support amount has been calculated, agreed to, and adjudged in a court of law. But you wait. And wait. And wait. And little amounts, here and there, may come trickling in, but it isn’t anywhere close to what was agreed to. You’ve asked, and asked, and nothing seems to work. Appeals to better nature, and the safety and well-being of the children amount to mehs and shrugs. Angry texts and phone calls go unanswered, and you know you can’t withhold visitation rights as leverage because that could end up with you in court for contempt (as I’ve written about on Guyvorce before!).
So what can you do at this point?
You get serious. Time to go back to court, and get the support order enforced.
Because that’s what it is: once a judge puts her/his signature to it, it’s not just an agreement between two parties, it’s a court order. It’s a legally binding contract between you, the non-custodial parent, and the State. And if someone’s not living up to their end of the bargain, you have recourse for what needs to happen next.
My first piece of advice: talk to the local prosecutor’s office. This may actually be on a county level, depends on where you reside, or which court this will be tried in. But you need to talk to them first. The intake may take some time. In fact, this entire process may take some time to get moving. Don’t be discouraged. Bad news travels fast, but good things can come to those who wait, to mix a metaphor or two.
The moral of the story is, you need to talk to the prosecutor. A law is being scuttled, therefore it’s up to them to enforce it. Bringing in your own attorney would only complicate matters in this case. Technically, you are not suing your ex, but the State is. Your involvement will primarily be as a witness for the prosecution.
The only reason your own attorney may need to be involved, is if the respondent (These days, “plaintiff” and “defendant” aren’t typically used in divorce cases – “petitioner” and “respondent” are the modern lingua franca, in my experience) decides to file motions against you during the process, for whatever reasons they feel they may have. It could just be a scare tactic, or there’s a legitimate reason to do so (say, trying to negotiate down a lower support payment). So be on your guard, as this can happen.
That being said, don’t expect a court date to happen immediately. The first steps will be trying to enforce the order without going to trial. This can come via the use of compliance paperwork to both your ex and her/his employer, garnisheeing wages, etc. If these don’t work, they can move on to suspension of driver’s license, liens on property, and other tactics that will, hopefully, get the point across and get your arrears paid off sooner than later.
The biggest piece of advice here is, while being patient throughout the process, don’t be afraid to keep pushing for information. Don’t lose the prosecutor’s number, and make sure they don’t lose yours as well. The wheels of justice turn interminably slow in this country, but it was done so for a reason. You are also, sadly, far from the only case the prosecutors will be trying of this kind. In my jurisdiction, there is a whole department of the county prosecutors’ office dedicated to child support issues, and I’m willing to bet this is not unique to my neck of the woods. All that said, make them remember you, and make sure they keep up on your ex to make sure the orders are enforced, before it does go to trial.
It’s your money. Actually, it’s your children’s money. They need it. They’re legally owed it. Go get it.
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