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How can you make sure you get the child support you're owed?

So your divorce agreement went into effect and you and your former spouse began the next stages of your lives. Maybe your ex had sincere intentions to live up to his or her child support obligations; maybe not. Either way, you read last week's blog post and asked yourself, what options would I have in that situation? As a custodial parent who relies on child support but struggles with delinquent payments, what can you do?

Speaking in general terms -- not offering legal advice for anyone's specific circumstances -- there are a number of measures Dallas parents can take in terms of child support enforcement. Of course, you can try to facilitate your ex's payments by asking the state to set up automatic withdrawals from his or her paycheck. That might help if the hangup is just a matter of writing and mailing timely checks.

If the problem runs deeper than that, custodial parents can initiate legal action to enforce a child support order. A court will have the power to garnish wages and intercept tax returns and Social Security benefits. If your ex happens to win the lottery, the court can make sure that money goes to your back child support payments first.

There are also other measures that are more punitive in nature. Suspending your ex's driver's license, for example, is one step the court may take in order to try to convince him or her to pay up. A passport may similarly be denied, which can be an inconvenience but can also ensure that fleeing the country won't complicate the issue.

In the end, noncustodial parents who fail to meet their court-ordered child support obligations can be sentenced to jail. This virtually guarantees, however, that no arrears will be made up since that parent won't be earning any money. It's generally better for both parties if an alternative can be found to jail.

Now, the above all assume that the noncustodial parent truly does have the ability to pay. What if that's not the case? Noncustodial parents also have some options under the law if they are unable to pay, which we'll take a look at in an upcoming post.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Child Support Enforcement Options," accessed on Aug. 22, 2014

Source: Findlaw.com, "Child Support Enforcement Options," accessed on Aug. 22, 2014

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