Handling The Enforcement Of Existing Orders

When the divorce papers are signed, and the two halves of a former couple go their separate ways, many are hopeful that they will have a break from dealing with an attorney and/or the court system, but if spousal support or child support is among the judge's decrees, the days of getting help from a lawyer might be far from over.

At Previtera & Schimmel in Philadelphia, our firm works exclusively with family law cases in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. We handle all aspects of cases where an existing court order needs to be enforced or modified, and guide clients through these processes.

Child Support Nonpayment Problems

Those who are due child support have had a particularly hard time collecting. As of 2011, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, custodial parents in the U.S. were owed more than $100 billion in child support payments, and in 75 percent of the cases the noncustodial parent refuses to make their payments, although they should be able to afford them. Only 19 percent of eligible custodial parents received the full amount of child support that they had been awarded by the court.

Although there are still cases where noncustodial parents truly want to provide their children with the lifestyle they deserve, and are faithful in making their payments as ordered, the statistics showing how custodial parents all over the country are short-changed only proves the necessity of staying on top of getting payments current and keeping them there. Working with a lawyer can make a big difference in getting more payments made for longer periods of time.

Spousal Support/Alimony

If you are missing alimony payments, one of the first things you or your Greater Philadelphia lawyer can do is find out why spousal support isn't being paid, and try to work out an agreement. If the person who was ordered to pay spousal support has discontinued payments due to their own difficult circumstances, such as becoming unemployed or because they are facing a medical hardship, some compassion may be necessary in order to calculate a reasonable monthly payment.

Although not paying spousal support is not considered quite as serious as not paying child support, it is still a violation of a court order subject to contempt. Wages can be taken; however, unemployment cannot be taken, and payments that are due from self-employment are a challenge that many are unable to conquer without a lawyer.

When Arrangements Do Not Work Out

If an alternate agreement doesn't work out, additional paperwork needs to be filed with the court. A lawyer can make sure this is done correctly in order to avoid delays. With the court's help the arrangements that are in place can be enforced.

  • Spousal support: When payments are not made, and no alternate arrangement has been worked out, there are a number of avenues the court considers in order to punish the person who is not paying and encourage them to pay.
  • Contempt: A charge of contempt of court is one of the most straightforward consequences for nonpayment of spousal support, because one ex-spouse is not complying with a court order. Continued refusal to pay past due payments as well as current ones may result in jail.
  • Income withholding: Rather than send noncustodial parents to jail, the court will often take money out of a person's paycheck in order to make their alimony payments, and as long as the payer remains employed, payments get made; however, it is more difficult to enforce this with persons who are unemployed or self-employed.
  • Writ of execution: In a writ of execution, the judge awards a portion of bank accounts or other assets to the person who has not been receiving court-ordered payments.
  • Child support: From time to time, parents are able to figure out why child support payments were not made as promised and correct the problem. However, many find that enforcement won't happen without going back to court.

Contact Us Today For Help

If you are having trouble collecting spousal and/or child support, contact us for a case evaluation. We work hard to get your payments back on track. Call our office at 800-580-9136.