Child Support

What If My Ex-Spouse Or Partner Refuses To Pay For Child Support?

Last updated on September 18, 2023

When you divorce your spouse, the divorce order may require a noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. Child support can help the custodial parent cover costs associated with paying for their children’s housing, education, and health needs. However, sometimes the paying parent may fail or refuse to pay the child support owed.

There are several legal options that parents can use to enforce a child support order. If your efforts to connect with your ex about child support are unsuccessful, New York child support lawyers from New York Family Law Group are ready to help.

Contempt Proceedings

One of the best ways to resolve issues with child support is by filing contempt complaints. With the help of an attorney, you can draft a motion to hold your partner or ex in contempt of court. The court will decide whether your ex-spouse is in contempt during the contempt proceeding.

If it is the first time, the judge may order your ex-spouse to pay the outstanding amount, including a penalty. However, if the court ascertains that they have repeatedly refused to pay, they could end up going to jail.

Contempt of court is an offense that may result in losing visitation or custody rights provided in the divorce order. These proceedings may also allow you to file for a modification proceeding that allows you to make alterations to the divorce order.

Child support attorney on New York City

Withholding Income

You also have the right to petition the court to withhold the paying parent’s income. The court may ask your partner or ex’s employer to transfer a certain percentage of their wages to you. This way, you will be sure to receive child support every time your former spouse gets their paycheck. However, it’s worth noting that this option is only effective if your former spouse is employed.

Writ of Execution

If your former spouse is not employed, you might have to consider filing for a writ of execution. A New York child support lawyer can help you ascertain whether filing for a writ of execution is a suitable option. The writ of execution allows the court to seize your ex-spouse’s assets like bank accounts and stock holdings. Most judges will only approve a writ of execution if your former spouse owes a substantial amount of child support payments.

Legal Option Description
Contempt Proceedings Filing contempt complaints and holding your ex in contempt of court can be effective. The court can order payment of outstanding child support and penalties, and repeat offenders may face jail time. It can also lead to modifications of visitation or custody rights.
Withholding Income Petitioning the court to withhold the paying parent’s income ensures child support payment with each paycheck. This option is suitable when the paying parent is employed and has a regular income source.
Writ of Execution If the paying parent is unemployed, a writ of execution allows seizing assets like bank accounts and stocks to fulfill child support obligations. This option is applicable when a substantial amount of child support is owed.

What Amount of Child Support Will I Have to Pay?

New York’s child support laws are the Domestic Relations Law section 241 (1-b), and the Family Court Act section 413(1) (b). Child support is calculated using a statutory formula. This formula adds both parents’ income and multiplies it by the statutory child maintenance percentage, based on the number of children. These percentages are:

  • 17% of the total parental income for one child
  • 25% of the total parental income for two children
  • 29% of the total parental income for three children
  • 31% of the total parental income for four children
  • Maximum 35% of the total parental income for five children or more

The formula has a limit on combined incomes. It is currently $143,000 at the time of writing. However, it is updated periodically. The court can still use the formula for all income, but it cannot use it for more than the cap. The cap is often ignored by courts, but a court may impose it occasionally if the noncustodial parents can prove they are involved in the child’s finances and have already paid child support. These factors will be considered by a court:

  • The financial resources of each parent and the child
  • The child’s emotional and physical health, as well as any special abilities and needs.
  • The standard of living that the child would have had if it weren’t for the divorce
  • The tax consequences for each spouse
  • The parents’ non-monetary contributions to the care and well-being of their child
  • The educational needs of each parent
  • Whether one parent’s net income is significantly less than that of the other parent
  • Any other children of the noncustodial parent who are receiving support

How to Get Child Support If Father is Not Working

If your ex-spouse or former partner fails to provide child support and is jobless, you might want to consider obtaining a writ of execution. This legal instrument authorizes the court to confiscate your ex-spouse’s assets, like bank accounts and stocks, to ensure that you obtain the child support that is rightfully yours. However, courts usually only grant writs of execution when your ex-spouse owes a significant amount of child support. To determine if this is an appropriate option for your case, consult a New York child support lawyer. 

Alternatively, you may file contempt complaints. If you file a motion claiming that your ex-spouse is in contempt of court, the court will decide during the contempt proceedings whether this is true. For a first offense, the judge may demand that your ex-spouse pay the overdue amount plus a penalty. But if the court finds that your ex-spouse has repeatedly refused to pay, they could be jailed. Contempt of court is a serious offense that may result in losing the visitation or custody rights outlined in the divorce decree. Additionally, these proceedings may allow you to apply for a modification proceeding to amend the divorce decree.

When Does a Child Support End?

Your child technically becomes an adult when they turn 18, but the legal obligation to support your child often continues beyond that age. New York law states that a non-custodial parent must make support payments until the child turns 21 or if there are other arrangements made at the time of the divorce.

You should remember that even if your visitation rights are not granted, you are responsible to keep paying the child support. However, there are instances when you can terminate your obligation early such as when the child is born. These instances include: 

  • The child getting married
  • The child becomes self-supporting 
  • The child joins the military
  • Leaves the home between the ages of 17 and 20 and refuses to obey parental commands

An attorney can help you file an objection to an existing child support order if any of these events happen or if your financial situation has changed significantly.

To avoid facing legal consequences, it is important to keep paying the order amount until the court orders otherwise. An attorney can also assist you in filing a violation petition if the noncustodial parent stops paying child support. A court can garnish the wages of your ex-spouse, order a lump sum to be paid, or even jail the non-custodial spouse for up to six months.

Reach out to a New York Child Support Lawyer Today

The law requires all parents to offer financial assistance to their children. If your former spouse fails or refuses to pay for child support, you have the right to file for contempt proceedings, writ of execution, and motion proceedings. Hiring a family law attorney allows you to determine the best option to manage the situation.

If you are owed child support and have failed to collect missing payments on your own, we are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule an initial case evaluation.



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