Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

What options does a parent have when child support is not paid?

Many Salt Lake City residents work hard to earn a living for themselves and their children. This is no small task, as the costs of raising a child seem to be increasing by the day, with no end in sight.

After a divorce, the costs of raising a child can be particularly troublesome. The custodial parent is typically awarded child support from the non-custodial parent, which is calculated based on the child support guidelines. However, the child support order itself may not guarantee that the other parent will actually make the payments he or she is required to under the order.

Accordingly, many parents can find themselves dealing with a situation where the other parent owes several delinquent payments that have not been made. The custodial parent may wonder what options are available in order to enforce the child support order.

As a general matter, since the child support order is a court order, it must be obeyed by the party who is supposed to make payments. Consequently, if the parent fails to make payments, the other parent can file a motion asking the court to enforce the order. The court may then impose penalties on the parent who failed to comply with the support order, which could include finding that parent in contempt of court and ordering the parent to pay a fine or make additional payments.

At the same time, however, the custodial parent is also obligated to follow existing court orders. Therefore, if the non-custodial parent is entitled to parenting time, the custodial parent may not deny this access simply because child support has not been paid. Rather, the custodial parent should work within the system to enforce the existing support order, in order to get payment and avoid being held in violation of the parenting time order.

Source: Utah Courts, "Child Support," accessed on March 13, 2015

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