We recently had an interesting question about child support enforcement asked by one of our Facebook page members.
My ex was unemployed for a time and stopped paying the support he owed me. He’s now employed again, making more than he ever has before. He has not paid any of the back support and is refusing to talk to me about it. I also want to restart alimony, which was temporarily stopped when he lost his job. What are my rights to the back support and current support payments?
Here are some answers…
When back child support or alimony is owed, the party seeking payment can file an enforcement motion with the courts. As part of this process, new financial documents (W-2s, bank statements, etc.) are generally required from both parties to show their current income levels and financial resources.
In a case where an ex stopped paying support due to job loss but is now has a steady job at a higher income, the courts will generally expect this person to start making good on back payments. The courts will be very specific in how this amount is to be satisfied as well as consequences for continued non-payment. For example, the paying party may need to pay back payments in full within a strict timeframe or face wage garnishment or in extreme situations, arrest. In most cases, New Jersey’s child support system, run by the state’s Department of Human Services, oversees processing of payments. Any current payments will be expected to made per court order.
To recover payment of back alimony, the courts could decide to create a payment plan for restitution based on the paying party’s current income, similar to child support. Unlike child support, however, there is no overseeing agency for alimony payments in the state. The courts can order an automatic monthly bank transfer to occur, or opt for ordering wage garnishment to satisfy payments. Other possibilities include the ex making a lump sum payment for the entire back amount due. If the courts need to go further, a next step could be asset seizure or (in extreme situations) jail time until payment is made.
To restart alimony that was temporarily stopped due to job loss or income change, the courts generally want to see pay stubs to verify the new income level. You can then request a new modified amount based on this change in income. Generally, the courts view back support payments and current/future payments as two separate issues, so just because someone is paying off back payments doesn’t mean that current payments will be automatically lowered or changed in any way.
Bottom line: If you’re owed money from unpaid support or need to restart payments once your ex is able to pay again, the courts have established methods for enforcing payment.
Do you have questions about enforcing alimony or child support? Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys and learn your rights and best options. Call us today at 888-888-0919, or please click the green button below.