I’ve Had Enough With Late Support Payments and Visitation Problems–What Can I do to Make Him or Her Pay on Time?

Often in the aftermath of a contentious divorce, a parent becomes lazy in making child support payments or in adhering to the visitation schedule. Your ex-spouse may be deliberately antagonizing you by not always providing the support payments on time or by “forgetting” that this was his or her weekend with the children.

To enforce your marital settlement or legal separation agreement, you may have to go to court to enforce it. Before embarking on this course of action, you may want to consider talking to your ex-spouse to see why the payments and visitation schedule are not being followed.

Try to Accommodate Your Ex-Spouse–Or Else

If he or she has lost a job or experienced some financial hardship or other catastrophe that has materially affected his or her ability to provide the ordered support or to follow the visitation schedule, you might suggest he or she ask the court to modify it. Your order may be also be vague if it only refers to reasonable visitation or subject to agreement by the parties. If so, you will want a more detailed order.

Otherwise, you might advise your ex-partner that if you do have to go to court to enforce the support and visitation order, he or she will likely have to pay your attorney’s fees along with unpaid support payments and other expenses you had to incur if the failure to comply was intentional. Also, in case of nonpayment of support, some states will temporarily suspend the driver’s license of the nonpaying parent until there is compliance.

If the other party is deliberating ignoring you or the visitation order, you can also file a complaint with law enforcement since failure to comply is a criminal offense.

Your state’s department or agency dealing with child support enforcement can start proceedings against the noncustodial parent. Its authority extends across state lines in accordance with the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which every state has adopted.

Your Parenting Plan

Your visitation schedule and support payment amounts are in your Parenting Plan or in the final divorce decree. Review it to ensure that it is not being followed and remind the other party of the provisions. If there is some minor detail that is causing a problem such as a pickup location, this can be an easily changed in the Plan. Parents’ schedules do change and both sides should try to be accommodating unless it causes an extreme inconvenience for one of you.

Court Action

You can file a motion on your own by obtaining the proper forms from your state’s child support services agency or hire a private attorney. Before filing a motion to enforce visitation, you should carefully document the times when the schedule was not followed and how much time you missed with your child. Include efforts you made to contact your ex-spouse and if any efforts were made to resolve the problem.

If you do file, the court can change the visitation plan by increasing your rights, ordering additional visits, decrease the amount of spousal support you may be paying or hold the other parent in contempt, which can include jail time.