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David J. Cohen Law Firm, LLC  Jan. 16, 2023

What Can I Do if My Ex Isn’t Paying Their Child Support?

Dealing with a former partner who is not paying court-ordered child support can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience. It can be also difficult to understand what steps you must take in order to receive the payments you are owed. 

As the family law attorney at David J. Cohen Law Firm, LLC, I can help you navigate this process as smoothly as possible while protecting your rights and those of your children. From my office in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, I serve clients throughout Chester and Montgomery Counties.  

Contempt Motion for Failing to Pay Child Support  

In Pennsylvania, there are two main ways to address non-payment of child support:  

  1. Filing a motion of contempt  

  1. Seeking court intervention 

Motion of Contempt 

A motion of contempt is a legal action taken by one party against another for failing to comply with a court order, such as an order for child support payments. Filing a motion of contempt allows a parent of a child to bring their ex into court and ask the judge to enforce the child support agreement that is already in place. If found guilty of contempt, the judge may order your ex to pay overdue amounts plus interest, enforce wage garnishment, remove their driver’s license or professional license, or even sentence them to jail until they comply with the court order. 

Court Intervention for Non-Payment of Child Support  

If you have unsuccessfully tried other methods — such as filing a motion of contempt or sending letters of demand — and still can’t get your former partner to pay their court-ordered child support, then you may need additional help from the courts. The court will often intervene when one parent fails to meet their obligations under an existing court order.  

This could include enforcing wage garnishments from an employer or freezing bank accounts until the overdue payment has been made in full. Additionally, if your ex owns any real estate property, then it could be seized by the court until payment has been made in full. Finally, if everything else fails, jail time may be enforced until payment has been made in full.  

Paying Past-Due Child Support  

When a parent has mismanaged their child support payments, the custodial parent may be left wondering how to collect past-due child support. There are several options that may be available to collect past-due child support.  

One of the most common (and effective) ways to collect past-due child support is by garnishing wages. Under this strategy, the courts will order an employer to deduct part of the noncustodial parent’s wages and send those funds directly to the custodial parent instead. The court may also order that money be withheld from the delinquent parent’s payments, such as employment bonuses, pension benefits, or commission income, among others.  

Another strategy for collecting past-due child support is to incentivize the delinquent parent to pay by having the state revoke or suspend their driver’s license.  

It is important for individuals who are owed past due child support payments to understand what options are available to them. You need to understand your rights before taking action against someone who is not paying their court-ordered child support obligations. Consider speaking with an experienced attorney to discuss the specifics of your case or identify your best course of action.  

When Is Child Support Terminated?  

In Pennsylvania, child support payments are terminated once a child reaches 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. The law states that if the child has not graduated from high school by their eighteenth birthday and is still attending an accredited institution, then the parent must continue to pay until the completion of their studies.  

Once your child turns 18 and graduates from high school (or turns 19 before graduating), all future payments stop automatically. However, this does not mean that past-due amounts will disappear as well. Any arrears owed up until the point of termination are still required. It is important that these balances are addressed beforehand so that nothing gets overlooked down the line.  

It may be possible for parents who owe back payments to work out an alternative payment plan with each other in lieu of enforcing legal action. However, if one parent refuses to cooperate in such arrangements, then seeking legal representation will be necessary in order to enforce payment through litigation. In either scenario, it’s a wise decision to enlist the help of a skilled child support attorney.  

How an Attorney Can Help 

If your former partner is not paying the child support that has been ordered by the court, it’s important to seek reliable legal counsel. An attorney can walk you through the complexities of filing a motion of contempt and help you navigate the process of seeking court intervention.  

Don’t Face Challenges Alone  

If your ex is not paying their child support, there are several remedies available to ensure that your children receive the financial support they deserve. No matter which option you choose, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer.  

As an experienced family law and child support attorney, I can guide you through the necessary steps to collect money from your ex-partner. Reach out to my office in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.  


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