What Can You Do if Your Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support Payments?

Child Support letters with gavel and cash concept for child sport.

Child support can be important to ensure your child’s basic needs are met. Once an order has been issued by a judge, a parent cannot simply stop making payments or reduce them without the court’s permission. But what happens if your ex refuses to pay child support? Fortunately, Utah law provides for certain measures you can take to enforce a child support order.

How Can You Enforce a Child Support Order?

Court orders dictate when child support payments are made, and how often. Whether payments are withheld from the paying parent’s earnings, paid directly between the parties, or made through the Office of Recovery Services (ORS), the order must be obeyed. If your ex refuses to pay child support, you may be able to request assistance from the ORS to enforce the court order.

There are many enforcement tools that can be used by the ORS to collect child support. When a parent owes past-due child support, the following actions may be taken:

  • The paying parent’s federal or state tax refund may be intercepted
  • Unemployment benefits or Workers’ Compensation payments may be intercepted
  • Past due support may be reported to credit bureaus and District Courts
  • Liens may be placed on your property or bank account
  • Your passport may be denied, restricted, limited, or revoked
  • Your hunting, fishing, or other recreational license may be revoked
  • Your driver’s license or professional license may be suspended

In Utah, if a parent falls behind on child support payments, the support becomes a judgment — it must be paid in full in order to be settled. In some cases, the ORS may commence court proceedings for contempt of court or refer the case for criminal prosecution for non-payment of support. The parent receiving the support also has the option of taking their case directly to court without going through ORS.

Can You Bring a Court Action for Child Support?

If your ex refuses to pay child support, you may file a motion in court to enforce the order. Critically, violating court-ordered child support is considered contempt of court. In addition to issuing a judgment for the amount of support owed, a court could also hold the non-paying party in contempt and order them to pay a fine — or even serve jail time.

To request that the court enforce a child support order, you must file certain papers with the court. These include an Ex Parte Verified Motion to Enforce Domestic Order and for Sanctions, a Request to Submit for Decision, and an Order to Attend Hearing, along with any documents to support your request. The court will review the documents and schedule a hearing. Once the court sets the hearing date and time, all papers that were filed with the court must be served on the non-paying parent at least 28 days before the scheduled hearing. Proof of service must be filed with the court.

At the hearing, you and the other parent will have the opportunity to present your cases. If the judge determines that the obligated parent who allegedly disobeyed the child support order 1) knew about the order; 2) had the ability to follow the order; and 3) willfully failed to comply with the order, the appropriate penalties can be imposed.

Can You Withhold Visitation if Your Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support?

Sometimes, a custodial parent might think that they may be able to compel the non-custodial parent to make child support payments by withholding visitation. However, when there is a court order in place for child custody, this is unlawful. A parent is not permitted to violate a custody order simply because the other parent has violated a child support order. Any modifications to court ordered child support or child custody must be approved by the court.

Significantly, Utah law allows the parent from whom visitation has been withheld to be awarded court costs and attorney fees if they prevail in a legal action for noncompliance with a parenting time order. In other words, if you don’t permit your ex to have their court ordered parenting time, you may be responsible for paying their legal fees in connection with bringing an action to enforce the existing custody order.

Contact an Experienced Utah Family Law Attorney

If your ex refuses to pay child support, it’s crucial to take the necessary measures to enforce the court order. A skillful family law attorney can help you navigate the legal process — and the best interests of your child are met. Based in Salt Lake City, BartonWood provides knowledgeable counsel to clients who are facing a broad scope of family law issues, including those involving child support enforcement. To learn more about how we can help with your child support matter, call (801) 326-8300 or contact us to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Child Support