Regular child support payments are an important part of ensuring the well-being of a child or children following the end of a relationship. Because of the financial implications, the responsibilities are child support payments are defined very clearly in a separation agreement.
However, it can be possible, for any number of reasons, that a former spouse stops paying child support. Maybe they strongly disagree with the terms – or maybe they just can’t afford it anymore. What options do you have in this situation?
No Child Support Payments Does Not Mean the Right to Refuse Access
An important point to make is that even if a parent stops paying child support, that parent is still allowed to see the children according to the terms of the agreement.
In other words, threatening to block access to the children unless the child support payments commence again is not a legal option. Similarly, if one parent no longer visits the children, they do not have free license to end their child support payments.
So what then are your legal options?
How Skipping Child Support Payments is Enforced By Law
If it becomes apparent that an ex is refusing to make child support payments as a result of their own decision and not because of any financial distress, the Family Responsibility Office may get involved to resolve the issue.
This government agency can employ a number of means in order to get the payments started again, such as suspending drivers licenses or passports, freezing bank accounts or assets, or garnishing wages and federal payments.
Naturally, these options are relied upon as a secondary option, only if it isn’t possible to come to an agreement with the ex.
What if My Ex Can’t Afford to Pay Child Support Anymore?
Life can be unpredictable. A support payment that was agreed upon at the conclusion of the marriage might become very difficult to manage if your ex suddenly loses their job, or is moved to a lower paying position.
If you recognise that your ex is no longer able to keep up with their financial obligations, you can agree to work with them to reduce the child support payments.
However, if you do not agree with your ex that they can no longer afford to pay for child support, they have the option to file a Motion to Change with the courts. This takes the situation before a judge where it will be determined if their claim is accurate.
The judge will try to understand if the financial hardships are legitimate by exploring if the payor is dealing with high debts or legal duties to support other people in their life. As a note, if your ex is living with a new partner, the income of this new partner will be taken into account as well to determine the payor’s ability to continue payments.
After these deliberations, the court will either deny the request to lessen the payment or will set up a new child support payment plan and schedule. It could be possible that this new agreement is only a temporary reduction of the payment. It is important to keep in mind that the Court recognises child support as paramount to any other expense that the payor may have.
Work With a Lawyer to Resolve the Issue
The best way to quickly and effectively figure out the best course of action is to work with a team of professionals like the Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Barrie lawyers at Epstein & Associates. They can give you clear guidance, as well as knowledgeable advice based on their familiarity with the legal process and requirements.