Are you in the middle of a drama thinking, “My ex owes me money for child support and I can’t pay my bills without it”? If you are you are in good company.
Every week I hear from single moms getting no help financially. Are you one of the single moms who is anxious, depressed, stressed out an angry, because court-ordered child support is going unpaid.
Millions of dollars in child support go unpaid every year. According to the latest version of the government’s Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support report, released in January 2016 68.5% of child support money owed was actually received. According to this news story, Ohio seized over 10 million dollars in casino winnings from 2014 to May 2019.
Whether he owes you money for child support, spousal maintenance or equity from the house that hasn’t sold waiting for money from someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart is puts your family’s financial security at risk.
Child support amounts are usually calculated on a formula that takes into consideration both parents incomes, and the amount of parenting time each parent spends with the children. You can look up your state’s formula or get it from your attorney.
Generally, if both parents make the same amount of money and have the children an equal amount of time there will be no child support paid.
Even if child support is ordered the other parent may or may not pay it. This can happen for a variety of reasons including the higher income earner believes he can’t afford to pay the child support, the parent ordered to pay has a change in his income due to injury, illness or job change.
Problem with Child Support and Spousal Maintenance
If you are in a situation where you need child support or spousal maintenance to pay the rent or buy groceries you are in a panic on what to do when his check doesn’t hit the bank.
Depending on someone who is that undependable makes you vulnerable and it is way too much stress. It takes two people to make a baby and both people are responsible to support the child emotionally, physically spiritually and financially.
Unfortunately, not everyone meets there responsibilities. There is another option. Even if you are lucky enough that you were court-ordered child support and you are getting it regularly depending on child support for your family’s basic needs is a huge mistake.
When an adult is not able to meet her basic needs and depend on another person to meet their basic needs of food, housing, transportation and medical care you put your self in a very vulnerable situation.
Another problem with child support and spousal maintenance is that some moms hold themselves back professionally out of fear that if they make more money they will lose the money from their ex and it will be all on them.
It is scary to be totally financially responsible for your family, but the good thing is if you accept that you are responsible you will figure out a way to make it happen, make a plan and work that plan until you are successful.
When you expect someone else to save you, you keep waiting, wishing, hoping that someone else will do what needs to be done to make your life safe and comfortable. Then you get depressed and angry that he isn’t making it happen.
It is hard to make your life what you want it to be, but when you take responsibility you have the control and you can make it happen.
Besides being more secure in the present your children will grow up and be out of the house before you know it and then what will you do. I wrote a book to help you figure out how to thrive as a single mom and explain the steps to not only getting on your feet but having a thriving life.
Better than Child Support From Your Ex
A much better option than depending on money from your ex is to be able to earn your own money. As a single mom, it is super important that you are able to earn enough money to provide for your family’s basic needs of food, housing including utilities, transportation.
If you are not able to pay for these basic needs with what you earn when you first separate you have 2 options one make more money or two cut your expenses. A Single Mom’s Ultimate Guide to Making Ends Meet will give you the ideas you need to spend less and earn more.
Live Save Spend Repeat is a fantastic guide to living the life you want with the money you have.
Legal Options When Your Ex Owes You Money
Once you’ve made the mindset shift that you need to make enough money to provide for your basic needs & you are less vulnerable consider what you can do to maximize the probability that your ex will help support the children financially.
The first step is to make sure that you have child support in your divorce decree or that you have a court order. If your ex is paying you regularly great.
If he is not contact child support enforcement through the state if you qualify or your attorney if you do not and get it set up so that child support goes through the state then you will have a record of what is getting paid and what is not.
Nolo’s Essential Guide to Child Custody & Support is a useful guide in dealing with custody and child support.
There are consequences for parents who don’t pay child support. Laws vary from state to state. It is possible for a parent to lose his driver’s license or even go to jail for not paying child support. In some states being $10,000, in arrears is a felony and will land the parent in jail.
Even if you are pursuing legal action focus on what you can do to provide for your family’s basic needs and to have the life you want to have for yourself and your family.
As an added bonus you will find it much easier to have a good relationship with the other parent if you are not depending on him to provide money for rent and food. He may resent supporting you financially and if he isn’t making his payments you will resent him, have extra stress and feel way too vulnerable.
Remember your children will be out of the house before you know it and even if you are getting child support now it will stop when they leave. Secondly, focus on what you can control. Don’t waste precious time and energy trying to change someone else. If he isn’t being responsible this is probably part of the reason you aren’t with him any more.
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
As a member of the Empowered Single Moms community, I believe you can stop carrying the weight of the world alone and build a life you love. Join my mailing list and get 5 Keys to Single Mom Success.