Missing support payments? Consider your options for enforcement

Divorce can be a bitter, painful process. Thankfully, it doesn't last forever and there will be a time when the divorce proceedings are not a regular and pervasive part of your day. For the most part, the issues of a divorce can be resolved and you won't have to deal with them again.

However, orders for child and spousal support are different. They can impact your life and your ex's life for years after a divorce is finalized. Because of this, it is not uncommon for people in California to have to revisit the terms of support agreements or take action to make sure they are enforced throughout their lifespan. Even if you and your ex have gotten to a place where you are on good -- or at least less contentious -- terms, working to enforce an order for support can get difficult.

Enforcing an order for child or spousal support can be necessary if the person required to make payments has failed to do so and discussions with that person have not prompted an appropriate response and resolution.

In these situations, you may have no choice but to get the courts involved. When enforcing an order for support, the non-paying party will receive notification that the court is ordering him or her to get back on track with payments. That person will be given information on how to do so and what options are available for setting up a payment plan.

Should the non-paying party still not respond, penalties will be assigned. A judge could order increased fines, jail time, suspension of a driver's license or wage garnishment as a way to forcibly collect payments. While these penalties might seem overly harsh, they can be very effective.

If you have not been paid by an ex for support he or she has been ordered to pay, you need to understand that aggressive action may be necessary. If you are the person who has fallen behind on payments and want to avoid serious consequences, you need to take action to deal with the situation rather than ignore it and hope it goes away. In either case, having an attorney help you through this process can prove to be a wise decision.

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    Attorneys Paul Gavin and Wayne Dersch are certified as a family law specialists. Learn More