When parents are unmarried, it is common for the noncustodial parent to be responsible for paying child support to help provide financially for their child.
Unfortunately, establishing a court order for child support does not necessarily mean that the noncustodial parent will pay the amount owed.
Statistics show worrying disparities in child support payments
Despite many parents having a court order in place, a 2018 report found that roughly $10 million worth of child support payments go unpaid across the country. Additionally, the report also found that in 2015:
- Only 43.5% of custodial parents reported receiving the full amount of child support owed;
- 25.8% of custodial parents received a portion of the amount owed; and
- 30.7% of paying parents avoided paying child support entirely.
More than half of custodial parents with a child support agreement do not receive the financial support ordered to help care and provide for their children.
Supporting a child on one income can be stressful for many parents. Often, custodial parents depend on child support payments, and these statistics of non-payment can lead many to worry about their financial situation and their family.
What can parents do about missed child support payments?
An important thing to understand about child support is that missed payments do not often go overlooked. They remain an obligation the paying parent must fulfill. Each missed payment only increases the amount of back child support. It accrues just like any other debt.
Parents who do not receive payments have several options to obtain retroactive child support. For example, in North Carolina, parents can:
- Speak with the other parent first, to try and determine why they are not paying;
- File a motion for contempt to hold the responsible party in contempt of the court for not making the ordered payments. At the hearing on the motion, the party seeking support reimbursement can ask the court to order that the payments be withheld from the supporting spouse’s paycheck.
No matter the circumstances, it is often helpful to consult an experienced family law attorney when seeking retroactive child support payments.