I get calls from clients on a regular basis who ask me if they should “go after” child support.  Some clients are preparing for a divorce, some are previously divorced and others are parents who were never married.  There are a couple of things to point out here.

If you are wondering if you should seek support for your child, the question becomes, why would you not want to provide the best care for the child?  Doesn’t your child deserve the financial support of two parents?  Aren’t there things that you might need here and there that stretch your budget?  Isn’t it nice to have a little “extra” to help with the bills?

Contempt:  If there is a court order for the other parent to pay child support, he or she will be in contempt of court if s/he does not pay child support.   We have the following articles on contempt that you may find of interest.  Massachusetts Contempt and Contempt Summons.  If you are the party paying support, you must pay as ordered.  If the other parent insists that you don’t, or if they don’t react negatively when/if you don’t, just remember that you are in contempt of court whether or not your Ex reacts.  Only the Court can change a Court Order!  Five years down the road, if a contempt is brought to Court, you will be responsible to pay all of the payments that you did not pay whether or not the other parent agreed at the time (or didn’t bring an action when you failed to pay).  If you are the party receiving support, you are entitled to the Order and can take steps to collect it if the other party is not paying it.

Modification: You may also wish to see our information on modification here.  If support doesn’t seem to be the right amount, you might consider modification.  If you’ve been paying more day care or expenses for your child, you may need to re-calculate the amount.  Do you make more or less than you did when support was calculated?  Does your ex make more or less than when the support was last calculated?  Has one of you lost your job?  Is insurance less expensive or at a higher cost than it was before?  These, and many other factors, may put you in a position for modification.

Remember – child support is not a form of punishment and should never be seen as a way to get back at someone.  It is a way to provide for the child so that he or she has the same opportunities with a single parent that he would have with both parents.  It is a way for the custodial parent to afford groceries, clothing, daycare and more.  While it does not ease the physical burden of being a single parent, it provides assistance for the parent to continue to provide for the child.

Finally, don’t be too proud to accept the other parent’s money.  It’s not yours – it’s your child’s.  If you don’t “need” it and can provide financially for your child without it, consider putting it into a savings account for your child to use later for his or her education or for a nest egg in the future.

It’s also important to remember that child support and visitation are two individual issues.  For more on these topics visit this article. 

If you are considering divorce or not receiving your child support contact me.  We can work on your specific issues to get the support you need.  If you feel you aren’t receiving enough child support, we can discuss whether it’s time for a modification.  You may be entitled to more than you are receiving.  Don’t work on this alone.  You need an experienced lawyer to help you.  Contact me at this link for a FREE phone consultation.