Our Birmingham child support attorneys have come across many clients who were reticent to seek child support payments because they were sure the other person couldn’t or wouldn’t pay and there would be little opportunity to force them to do so.
This is simply not true, and a case out of New Jersey illustrates why it is important to, at the very least, get that order in writing.
In that case, one man was the incredibly lucky winner of $338 million, which he chose to accept in a lump sum of $211 million. This was the third-largest single cash prize ever awarded by the lottery.
The very next day, sheriff’s deputies were knocking on his door. As it turned out, the Powerball winner was nearly $30,000 behind in child support payments.
Of course, he now has ample ability to pay – and to continue paying, if that’s what the court order requires. But the fact that the mother of his children had that order in hand means that collection of back pay and future funds will be relatively easy.
Such an order would not have been impossible to obtain after the fact, but it would have been measurably more difficult.
Now, we’re not expecting a rush of deadbeat parents to suddenly come into a fortune. But it’s not uncommon for situations to change. Addicts get clean. The unemployed get jobs. People graduate, get promoted, earn a raise, claim an inheritance. There are all kinds of reasons why someone who was previously unable to pay child support is suddenly able to begin making payments, and there are numerous resources to utilize in order to collect those payments. Rarely if ever will it involve you personally reaching out to your ex.
Additionally, such changing circumstances might be grounds for modification of a child support order. Where once your ex may have only been able to afford $200 a week, now maybe it’s more reasonable that he can afford to pay $300 a week.
You might also be entitled to a temporary modification if, say, your child has a one-time major expense, such as school uniforms or braces, that will require some extra support. You may also seek a permanent change if some circumstance changes with your child. For example, if your child falls ill or requires some special needs care, you may seek an order requesting more in child support payments.
At the federal level, it is a misdemeanor to willfully fail to pay past due financial support for one’s children. That may be bumped to a felony if there is some interstate effort to evade payment obligations or if the amount is above the $2,500 threshold or if it’s been unpaid for more than two years.
Even if your ex doesn’t come into a windfall, there are still options the courts can take to force his hand, such as:
- IRS and state tax liens;
- driver’s license suspensions;
- passport denials;
- sheriff seizure of automobiles;
- wage withholding.
States know that the more arrearages accrue, the tougher it can be to collect, so there is an incentive to act quickly when there is an issue of non-payment.
In the case of the lottery winner, in many cases, the state’s division of lottery would satisfy that judgement against him before any winnings were awarded. The sheriff’s office warned that unless and until that amount was paid, the winner was subject to arrest.
If you are planning to seek child support payments in Birmingham, all our experienced attorneys today.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Powerball Winner Owes Thousands in Child Support Payments, By Korva Coleman, March 28, 2013, Alabama Public Radio
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