2nd Apr 2015

Being awarded child support during a divorce, paternity, or other legal action is a victory, but sometimes that victory is short-lived.  As with all court orders, people don’t always comply.  When this happens, the parent entitled to receive support on behalf of their child is placed in a difficult situation, where they simply don’t have the money they should to take care of their child.  What can a parent do in such a situation?

Ultimately, the best options is to hire a private Alabama family law attorney.  While negotiating independently and engaging the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) may seem enticing, the two routes have significant downsides and should not be attempted without the services of an attorney at Semmes Law.

Negotiating with the Other Parent

Negotiating with the other parent often simply doesn’t work.  Emotions run high and the non-paying parent has already demonstrated a lack of intention of paying the court ordered child support.

Getting Assistance from DHR

The Alabama DHR provides assistance to parents when the other parent is failing to live up to their child support obligations.  In fact, DHR’s very mission is to provide for the protection, well-being and self-sufficiency of children and adults as regulated in the Alabama Code Title 38, 26, 42 and under certain federal statutes.  However, the assistance is only automatic for persons receiving TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.  All other parents seeking help from Alabama DHR must apply through their local DHR office. The application process and working with DHR can be an administrative nightmare and a very slow process, as many bureaucratic processes are. As such, anyone interested in engaging with the DHR should have an attorney by their side.

Hiring a Family Law Attorney

Alabama family law attorneys have a variety of legal tools that they can use to help obtain child support payments.  They can typically take all of the same actions as DHR but can often do so more quickly and effectively, keeping the parent up to date throughout the entire process.

How can the an attorney help you if you are not receiving court ordered child support payments? Below is a list of actions that can be taken so that your child is provided for.

Income Withholding – One of the most common means of collecting income is to get a court order that directs the non-paying parent’s employer to withhold a portion of their wages for support.  It’s common because it is effective, but there are some tricky rules and exceptions that an attorney can advise on.

Liens – A lien on property requires that the debt be paid off before the property can be sold, liens for child support can be placed on real or personal property.

Garnishment – Although most garnishments are against a non-paying parent’s paycheck, you may also be able to garnish a bank account or other financial account to recoup back child support that is owed.

Execution on Property – In the right circumstances, you may be able to have certain property of the non-paying parent seized and sold to satisfy the child support you are owed.

Contempt Proceedings – If the unpaid child support payment is due to the non-paying parent refusing to pay when they are able, then the court can find them in contempt for refusing to obey the court’s previous order. The court can put the non-paying parent in jail for failing to pay. This will usually result in the non-paying parent paying some purge amount and being placed on reviews to ensure that future payments are made.

As you can see, the best option for parents who find themselves in the difficult situation of having to enforce their right to child support payments involves speaking with an experienced family law attorney.  If your child’s other parent has failed to live up to their child support obligation, the attorneys at Semmes Law are prepared to help you throughout each step of the way.

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