How to deal with a parent who won't pay child support

Many Minnesota single parents suffer from the same situation: Their exes will not pay to provide for their kids. When your ex refuses to pay child support - or can't pay because of incarceration or disability - you may be wondering what options are available for you. Even if your ex owes you tens of thousands of dollars, you can take steps toward recovering the funds by making a few simple choices.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but involving your ex in your children's lives is often a great way to encourage them to pay child support. You may be tempted to "punish" the other parent by preventing that person from seeing your child; however, keeping the other parent involved in the kids' everyday life can be hugely beneficial, as the parent is more likely to emotionally invest in their children. When the other parent is emotionally invested, he or she is more likely to be financially invested when they begin making enough money. Your children and your ex should not be punished for the lack of child support payment. Even though you are tempted to keep them apart, remember the long-term benefits of having both parents around.

Next, if your ex is not a dependable payer, try to avoid basing your budget around expected child support. Be more realistic by earmarking support money as savings or funds for extra items, instead of relying on it for necessities. Even better, your ex may be able to pay a portion of the child support. Although the full amount seems daunting to some, paying just a fraction can still help provide for basic needs.

After six months of non-payment, you should consider seeking help from the courts. Minnesota parents can seek a variety of actions, which could lead to the other parent's driver's license being suspended or their wages being garnished. The courts should be considered as a last resort, however, as it is generally best for you to work out your child support concerns on your own.

Those who need assistance from the courts can seek additional help from qualified family attorneys, who can help parents learn more about their rights to child custody and support.

Source:, "What to do when your ex won't (or can't) pay child support" Geoff Williams, Nov. 20, 2013

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