As family lawyers in Perth, we get a lot of enquiries from clients who tell us that their ex has stopped paying child support.
It can be a stressful experience especially if you rely on regular child support payments from your ex to provide for your children’s basic needs.
What can you do if your ex stops paying child support? We explore your options if your ex has stopped paying child support and how to recover missed payments.
What Is Child Support?
Under Australian Family Law, both parents are legally liable to support their children financially, after divorcing or separating.
Child support payments are a financial contribution made from parent to the other, solely for the care of a child or children. This most often happens where one parent has the children in their care for the majority of the time, or where parents have a significant disparity between their incomes.
Am I Entitled To Child Support?
All biological or legally-appointed parents/carers that have divorced or separated and have care of their children, are usually entitled to receive child support from their ex-spouses, partners, or a parent of the child.
The Child Support Agency regulates the payments that must be made.
Alternatively, the amounts and terms of such payments can be included in a Binding Child Support Agreement, which forms part of the overall divorce settlement.
Payments could be made weekly, monthly, or as a lump sum, and also include covering of school fees and other various expenses, agreed upon by both parents.
My Ex Has Stopped Paying Child Support – What Can I Do?
Australian Family Law regards non-payment of child support as a serious offence and can lead to severe consequences. If your ex has stopped paying child support, there are some key steps you can take prior to taking the legal route.
Talk To Them
Your first and most obvious option would be to talk to your ex, to establish the reason they have stopped payment. It may be that they can longer afford to because they lost their job, or have been ill and unable to work.
If they are genuinely unable to pay, you can try to come to some agreement where they pay a portion, until they’re back on their feet.
Advise Services Australia
You should also contact Services Australia, who have legal ways and means of ensuring your ex continues to pay child support. The same also applies to a parent who, for some reason, is genuinely unable to pay child support, so Services Australia are aware of the non-payment and the reason for it. Services Australia may be able to adjust child support payments accordingly.
Consult A Lawyer
If that is unsuccessful, the earlier you consult a child support lawyer to review and advise on your legal rights and your options, the better.If all attempts to recover overdue child support fail, and your ex has the means to pay, litigation could be the next logical option.
Have A Backup Financial Plan
Should your ex have fallen on hard times and genuinely cannot meet their child support obligations, you may have to have a backup plan until they get back on their feet.
If your child support payments are essential in order for you to be able to pay for basic needs for your children, such as housing, food and utility bills, those costs are going to remain unchanged.
If you can save regularly, even small amounts, then chances are it won’t become a financial burden on you. It’s always wise to have some savings tucked away in case your ex is unable to meet their child support payment obligations.
Recovering Unpaid Child Support
You can either chase your ex for missed child support payments through private legal channels as well as via Services Australia.
Services Australia can take a variety of actions to recover overdue child support:
- income support payment deductions
- deducting from tax refunds
- working with third parties
- employer or bank account deductions
- issuing overseas travel bans
Services Australia can also add late payment penalties which are due to the government, not the receiving parent.
You could also engage a child support lawyer in Perth to help you get overdue payments and ensure future payments are made on time.
Can I Withhold Access If My Ex Stops Paying Child Support?
Your ex has a legal right to have access to their children, under the terms of the parenting order or agreement that may exist. In the eyes of the law, access and child support are totally unrelated issues.
Can I Hire A Family Lawyer To Help With Child Support Issues?
As each case is different, child support lawyers are well-placed to assess your specific situation and advise you of your legal rights.
They are experienced in dealing in such matters, and can often foresee possible problems and complications and can save you a lot of time, anxiety and money in the long run.
Has your ex stopped paying child support for your children? Unsure what you can do to recover unpaid child support?