My Spouse Isn’t Paying Support: What Do I Do?

A gavel resting on top of $100 notes

Court-ordered support is peace of mind if you’re getting divorced or are divorced and rely on maintenance or child support to survive.

There’s just one problem: Any order for support is just a piece of paper, and former spouses don’t always comply.

Most people will wait a couple of weeks, or even a few months, before they decide to take action and seek out legal options. And while you don’t have to seek a remedy right away, it’s important to know your options if you have to go to court to collect.

There are Consequences for Non-Payment. . . 

The problem with court-ordered support is that too many payors – meaning the party who is paying the support – view the order as “optional.” Sometimes life happens – money can get tight, and people fall into what’s called “arrears.” Arrears are simply the past-due payments.

However, your former spouse can’t choose to not pay. After all, a court order is a court order! But, enforcing the order still requires action on your part. But don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything!

Your Legal Remedy

If you aren’t being paid support, you should talk to your Naperville divorce attorney about filing a Petition to enforce the order. This Petition will establish not only:

  1. That your former spouse is in violation of a court order to pay support, but will also
  2. Establish that the arrears are due and owing immediately;
  3. Provide relief from future non-payment; and
  4. Cover the attorney fees you incurred as a result of bringing the Petition.

Too many people forego support for a period of time because they wrongly believe that taking a spouse back to court is going to cost a lot of money. It’s important that you understand that you won’t be forced to pay if your spouse isn’t paying support.

What if They Still Don’t Pay?

There’s always the possibility that even after going through these motions, your former spouse still doesn’t pay. In most cases, the court will garnish wages. This means money goes directly from paychecks to you so money can’t be withheld. Other options the court may choose to pursue include:

  • Interception of tax refunds;
  • Liens on property; and
  • Private collection efforts

Of course, continued non-compliance with court-ordered support may also lead to criminal consequences. If your former spouse has not paid you support in over six months, or owes you more than $5,000, criminal penalties can be brought.

When you work with an experienced family law attorney in the Naperville area, you can explore all of your options.

Speak With Larry and Get Your Questions Answered 

Larry has over 37 years of experience in family law. If you have any questions regarding past-due support, he is happy to answer them during your free, 30-minute consultation!

To take advantage of this consultation, you may call 630-470-9990 at your convenience, or schedule a time online using our convenient form. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you in any way possible with your needs!