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Common Tactics of Parents Not Paying Child Support

Wednesday, 01 April 2015

Even after many years in my career as a Colorado Springs divorce attorney specializing in child support, I probably should not be, but am still amazed at the lengths that some non-custodial parents will go to avoid paying child support. The major thing I find so disturbing about this ongoing trend is that it reveals the lack of character and responsibility that comes out in some parents when faced with the reality of supporting their kids after a divorce. While not every parent who is not keeping up with their child support payments is intentionally avoiding them, the problem of parents shirking their legal and moral responsibility towards their children needs to be addressed.

In cases where the non-custodial parent is a father or mother who only sees the children every other weekend and has little to no contact during the week, animosity between the parents often grows and the non-custodial parent begins to think that the amount of time s(he) is allowed to spend with his or her children doesn’t warrant the financial burdens of raising them. Oftentimes, there is jealousy over a former spouse’s remarriage and so bitterness and resentment will then be used as the catalyst for nonpayment of child support. Another case that we see often as divorce attorneys in Colorado Springs with the transient nature of military service is when the custodial parent and children move out of state and the paying parent isn’t getting to spend much time with his or her children.

Unfortunately for the children, there are some parents who are simply resistant to the concept of paying child support. This is especially true among parents with alcohol and other substance abuse issues. There are those who refuse to take their responsibilities toward their children seriously or who constantly look for ways to punish their ex-spouse no matter how much time has passed since the end of the relationship. What these parents who don’t pay child support fail to acknowledge in these cases is that, whether or not the ex-spouse feels pain at the animosity directed toward them, the children almost certainly suffer both emotionally and financially.

Here are some ways these “deadbeat” parents get away with not paying child support:

  • They stop working and live off of others. Once their unemployment benefits run out, they stop paying support. As extreme as it sounds, some non-custodial parents have even been known to quit their jobs and use public assistance programs because they are so adamantly opposed to taking care of the children that they have a responsibility toward.
  • They work “under the table” accepting cash for all or part of the work they perform so that their full income is not reported by their employer to the IRS. Then, when it comes time to enforce a court order for child support, it looks like the parent has no income with which to meet their support obligations. Some non-custodial parents who do pay child support use this same tactic of working off the record for cash so as to reduce the amount they are required to pay in child support each month.
  • He or she will stop calling and/or seeing the children so they can avoid dealing with the custodial parent and facing the responsibility. This type of tactic requires the same faulty reasoning that the parent who thinks a visit with the kids every other weekend isn’t enough to warrant amount of money they are expected to pay in child support. They have twisted it in their minds that they are paying to see their children rather than recognizing that they have a legal and moral responsibility to share in the costs of raising children, of making sure that the young lives they helped bring into the world have the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter that every child deserves.
  • The parent not paying child support will petition the court for joint custody as a way to change the child support order. Some parents, putting their own desire to avoid giving money to their former spouse ahead of the well being of the children involved will even try to split up siblings. There may be valid reasons why siblings are not kept together in the same home, but avoiding paying child support is not one of the. When it comes to child custody and child support issues, Colorado courts base their decisions on the needs of the children first, and rightly so.
  • Some parents even move to a different town or another state and avoid their children completely, just to keep from meeting the child support payments they are obliged to pay.
  • Parents who have exceptionally large balances to pay off in “child support arrears” built up from months or years of falling behind on their support payments will bargain with their ex and make promises in order to get the custodial parent to write off the past due child support This is usually just a tactic to reduce or remove the debt, and these promises are rarely kept.

Fortunately, states and the federal government have over the past decades come up with more and better ways to find parents who refuse honor their obligation to support their children. One of the more recent and most helpful laws designed to catch non-paying parents is the establishment of a reporting requirement for employers to report all new hires to state and federal governments. Obviously, these reporting laws won’t catch people who are working “under the table” for cash, but they do make a difference in cases where a parent thinks moving out of state will help them avoid paying child support.

Another tool that many states, including Colorado, use to enforce child support orders is the ability to deny licenses to parents who are not meeting their obligations. The types of licenses states may revoke or refuse to renew are driver’s licenses, hunting, fishing and other recreational licenses, and professional occupational licenses such as plumber’s, cosmetologist’s, and nursing licenses. Parents who choose to avoid their child support obligations may find themselves in trouble when they get pulled over for a taillight and find out that they are going to jail for driving with a suspended license, or when they try to board a plane for a trip out of the country it may come as a surprise to learn that their passport has been revoked.

Another tool used to collect past due child support is the interception of state and federal tax refunds and lottery winnings. These are in addition to actions the courts can take like putting liens on property, garnishment of wages, and prosecution for failure to pay support and contempt of court.

If any of these tactics sound familiar to you, or your ex is not paying child support, a Colorado Springs divorce lawyer can help. Child support lawyers have seen every trick in the book when it comes to nonpayment of child support, so they will know exactly how to deal with each tactic.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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