How To Get Back Child Support from Your Ex

Nothing is more frustrating than going through an entire divorce, negotiating everything under the sun, from furniture to child custody, and then having your ex not pay child support.

There really is no excuse for failing to pay child support. There’s a kid. The kid needs support. Your ex should pay a fair share.

So, if you are the parent who should be receiving child support, and your ex is not paying child support, what can you do?

You have a couple options:

  1. Open a case with the Office or Recovery Services and hope your case worker will collect the back child support (also known as “child support arrearages”).

The Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS) is, essentially, a clearing house for child support payments.

If you open a case with ORS, it will collect child support from the paying parent and disperse it to the receiving parent. ORS charges a low fee to do this — around $15 per month.

Often, ORS will also collect on back child support, if it can determine a correct child support dollar amount to collect. It usually does this by garnishing the paying spouse’s income from their job.

The problem with letting ORS handle things is they either do a great job collecting, or an absolutely terrible job.

When your collection isn’t top on the priority list, or they have to do something different than they normally do, ORS will often shut down and do nothing. And by nothing I mean absolutely jack squat.

That leaves you without current and back child support. Not a good place to be.

  1. Collect back child support by filing a motion for contempt with the court.

If ORS isn’t doing what it should, or you simply don’t want to use ORS, filing a motion for contempt (also known as an “order to show cause”) is the way to go.

A motion for contempt asks the court to do a few things: (1) force your ex to pay the back child support, (2) give you a judgment so you can garnish your ex’s wages if payment doesn’t happen, (3) punish you ex for having to go after back child support.

Punishment for non-payment can be anything from paying your attorney fees to suspending your ex’s driver license to jail time. (Most common punishment is paying your attorney fees.)

In most cases, it takes one motion for contempt to collect back child support and get exes on board to pay child support in the future.

In fact, much of the time, people will pay their back child support before the court hearing because they’re afraid of what the judge will do to them.

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