In a Kansas City child custody or divorce proceeding, courts tend to issue final orders and then expect the parties to carry those orders out. Unless a need exists for the judge to intervene, courts tend to dislike having the same parties and litigants reappear time and again when there has been no new developments or issues in the case. One of the surest ways to have your child custody or divorce case land back before the court, however, is to fall behind on your child support payments.
A child support order is an enforceable court order, and the courts expect you to treat a child support order in such a manner. The reality is, however, that these orders can impose a significant financial hardship on the payor. While not paying your child support obligation is never a good idea, there are steps you can take if you realize you are not going to be able to make a payment.
Seek Out Legal Counsel – Fast!
Not making your child support payments on time may cause the court to issue a warrant for your arrest and to hold you in contempt of court. To have the greatest opportunity at avoiding this, you need to take swift, decisive, and effective action. The best way to do this is by retaining an experienced Kansas City child support attorney. A skilled attorney is in the best position to recommend what actions you should take based on the specific factual circumstances of your case.
Speak with the Agency Responsible for Receiving Payments
Communication is often key in child support cases – if the court and/or the agency responsible for receiving your payments are not informed of your situation, they will almost invariably assume that you are willingly refusing to pay your child support obligation. As soon as you know you may be late in making a payment, contact the payment processing agency and inform them of the situation. Let them know when they can expect the payment to be made. In some cases, if this is your first missed payment and you are able to make it up within a few weeks, you may suffer no adverse consequences at all.
In speaking with the agency, make sure you keep your promise. If you promise to pay a certain amount by a specific date, make sure you do so. Do not overpromise – if you know you will not be able to make your full child support payment within a certain timeframe, do not agree to do so. Also, be certain you keep records of your conversation: who you talked with, when you spoke with them, and the substance of your conversation. You may wish to put this information into a letter and mail the letter to the agency immediately following your conversation so as to confirm your understanding and agreement (be sure to keep a copy of the letter or notes for your own record).
Consider Filing to Modify Your Child Support Payments
Finally, take this opportunity to ensure your child support obligation is properly calculated. While even parents who are unemployed or employed at minimum wage are expected to support their children, child support obligations in Kansas and Missouri are also supposed to be based in part on the income of each spouse. If you are careful about your expenditures but still find it difficult to make your child support payment, there may have been a mistake made when the order was calculated. Speak with an attorney who can review your order and determine if the obligation imposed on you was properly calculated.
The Law Office of Kevin S. Cavanaugh is a Kanas City-area firm assisting parents with child custody, divorce, child support, and other family law issues. Contact Kansas City Divorce Lawyer Kevin S. Cavanaugh for a free, initial consultation to discuss your child support concerns by calling (913) 387-3193.