After a divorce, the majority of parents fulfill their financial obligations for their minor children, ensuring that their kids have shelter, food, clothing, health care, and other necessities. Unfortunately, there are cases where an ex-spouse fails to put the children first. If you suspect your ex-spouse is taking a lower-paying job to avoid child support, there are legal options available to you.
Family Laws Favor Children
It is a crime for a legal parent to fail to support his or her children. Even if your ex-spouse is taking a lower-paying job to avoid child support, the parent must pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later. Child support ends at age 19 or when the child is emancipated.
Gather Evidence To Substantiate Your Hunch
A suspicion is not proof that your ex-spouse is taking a lower-paying job to avoid child support. You must document that your spouse could be earning more money. Collect your ex-spouse’s pay stubs, tax returns, financial statements, employment history, educational record, texts, emails, or other records that could help to demonstrate intentional avoidance.
If your ex-spouse is making big-ticket purchases or taking lavish vacations while claiming to have a reduced income, note when the items were bought and how much they cost. If you don’t know the amounts, do an online search for the items and list those prices as estimates.
Next, Contact A Family Lawyer
Once you have verification, seek legal advice from a family law attorney. Our attorneys in Rockville and Frederick will review your child support agreement and provide guidance on the best course of action. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the attorneys may suggest one or more of the following options:
- Request a child support review or modification. The court will review your child support agreement and your evidence, and reassess the support based on your ex-spouse’s financial situation.
- File a motion for contempt. This action notifies the court that the paying parent is in violation of the child support order. If the court finds your ex-spouse to be in contempt of the order, he or she will face fines, wage garnishment, and possibly jail time.
- Get assistance from the Maryland Child Support Administration. This state agency provides enforcement of child support orders and can take legal actions against delinquent parents, such as wage garnishment, bank levy, or other collection methods.
- Engage in mediation. Sometimes, instead of going to court, mediation may be a better way to address the issue and find a mutually agreeable solution.
Protect Yourself From Future Incidents
To avoid a recurrence of this event, ask a Maryland child support lawyer in a family law firm such as Fait & DiLima to review your child support agreement. It may need to be modified. The attorney will assemble the necessary documentation to file the modification request with the court. The court will reassess the support amount based on your ex-spouse’s income and financial situation.
Seek Emotional Support For Your Children And Yourself
The emotional impact of an ex-spouse taking a lower-paying job to avoid child support is hurtful to the children and to the custodial parent. Feeling betrayed and abandoned, the children may resent the non-paying parent. The relationship between the children and non-paying parent may become strained, leading to a breakdown in trust. Children may also develop self-esteem issues, as they wonder whether they are “worthy” of the non-paying parent’s support.
The custodial parent may experience financial stress as he or she struggles to provide for the children’s needs. In trying to shield the children from financial problems, the custodial parent may feel guilty for the divorce, for being unable to provide, and for the deteriorating relationship between the children and the non-paying parent.
During this challenging time, it’s important for the children and the custodial parent to share their emotions with counselors or support groups. Others who have been in this situation can offer you and your kids coping strategies and suggestions on how to navigate the emotional turmoil and protect mental health.
Fait & DiLima, LLP: We Move Mountains for You
Withholding child support is wrong, it is unfair, and it is illegal. If you believe – or know – that your ex-spouse is intentionally avoiding his or her child support responsibilities, you may feel powerless to act. Family courts have measures in place to address this crime, but your unique circumstances require the skilled advocates at Fait & DiLima to present your evidence to the court. Our tenacious family law attorneys will pursue all legal avenues to seek justice for you and your children.
With more than 50 years of collective experience, the award-winning team at Fait & DiLima has successfully represented clients and their children in child support cases. We can help you too. Contact us today at (301) 251-0100 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Rockville and Frederick. For your convenience, we also offer online meetings.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.