Only about 45% of parents receiving child support in the United States receive full payments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About two-thirds of recipients see partial payments each month, while others entitled to child support receive nothing.

Not receiving the full amount of child support you are owed can be a frustrating experience. This is especially true if your ex-partner’s failure to pay is due to an outright refusal. In this circumstance, there are actions you can take to regain control of the situation.

Do Bring the Issue up with the Court 

If your ex announces they will not pay child support — or if you notice your ex is not making child support payments as directed, bring the issue up with the court. 

If your spouse is experiencing financial hardship, you could work with them to address a lack of child support payments. However, an ex who announces that they refuse to pay child support is deliberately ignoring an order of the court. Bring the matter up with your attorney immediately so the court can be made aware and take action.

Do Keep Copies of Communications from Your Child’s Parent 

Make every effort to save emails, texts, and phone messages from your ex in which they discuss not paying child support. Courts will typically view an inability to pay child support differently than a willful refusal to pay. Your ex’s communications with you about their child support obligation can be powerful evidence of their intention not to pay.

Other avenues are available to you if your ex refuses to pay child support as directed. These include initiating contempt proceedings against your ex, requesting an income withholding order, or requesting that the court award you a judgment with interest. 

Any of these actions can impress upon your ex-partner the seriousness of their decisions and your commitment to holding them accountable.

Do Not Ignore the Situation

Your ex’s decision not to follow the court’s orders and pay child support as directed can put your child’s well-being at risk. Not addressing the matter may only serve to encourage your ex to continue with their behavior. Therefore, it’s essential to address any failures to provide child support sooner rather than later.

Do Not Withhold Visits With Your Child

Disregarding the court’s child custody order is not an effective way to respond to a refusal to pay child support. Your ex’s right to visit and spend time with their child exists independently of their support obligation. Refusing to allow your ex visitation until they start paying child support can subject you to the court’s contempt powers as well.

Do Not Involve Your Child

As stressful as it can be not to be paid child support, try to avoid discussing the matter with your child. It’s best not to disparage your ex or speak badly about them in front of your child. Creating a rift between your ex and child can also cause the court to sanction you.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help With Child Support Issues 

If your former spouse is refusing to pay the child support you are due, you have options for recourse under California law. A San Diego family law attorney can evaluate the details of your case and guide you on the best steps to take going forward. 

With an attorney’s help, you can successfully navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding child support and protect the interests of both you and your child.


Contact our experienced San Diego child support lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC, today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108