Unfortunately it's something that many South Carolina mothers and fathers have had to contend with at one time or another: a parent who is not fulfilling his or her child support obligation. National statistics indicate that as of 2009, $108 billion in back child support payments were owed to parents – a serious problem by almost any measure. So what is a parent to do in these cases?
Unfortunately it's not always easy to get child support money from a parent who either refuses or is unable to pay. You can file a contempt action which may result in them being put in jail, but it may not accomplish what you want – getting your money back. Instead, a recent article in U.S. News & World Report had some great suggestions for parents who are owed child support.
The first bit of advice may be a tough pill to swallow for some South Carolina moms and dads who are owed child support. The author of that article suggested that parents should work hard to keep the other parent involved in your children's lives, regardless of payment. Many parents feel that if their ex is not going to pay, then he or she should not be involved in the kids' lives. The problem is that this mindset often makes things worse. For one thing, parents who no longer feel invested in their children have less incentive to find ways to pay the money they owe. For another, denying your children access to their other parent only hurts them in the long run by damaging an important personal relationship.
Second, the author encouraged parents who are owed child support to avoid including the amount in their monthly budgets, if possible. In other words, act as if the money does not exist, so that you can avoid financial devastation in the event that the other parent fails to pay. If he or she does pay, then that's great news and you can treat the money as a bonus.
Another good tip for parents who are owed South Carolina child support money is to simply have a conversation with the other parent and ask him or her to make partial payments. If he or she simply cannot afford the full amount, you can make clear that something is better than nothing. Though you should not simply let them off the hook, receiving even reduced payments until the other parent can get back on his or her feet can be a real help to the primary custodial parent.
Finally, the author of the article says that when everything else has failed it might be time to get the courts involved. Though may not always be a good idea to race to a South Carolina Family Court right away, in some situations it is, and if it has been months since you last received a payment and the other parents is not making any real effort to pay, it probably is time to consult an attorney to discuss your options.
Source: “What to Do When Your Ex Won't (or Can't) Pay Child Support,” by Geoff Williams, published at USNews.com.