Today's post comes courtesy of Suzanne, a Certified Credit Counselor and single mom. Sit back and relax as she kicks knowledge on what to do when your child is not receiving the support they deserve.
I have been a single, full-time custodial parent for six years of my son’s life. I am the parent that kisses boo-boo’s, gives showers, prepares all meals, does homework, shows up at every school event and sporting activity and tucks my son in to bed every night. As if that isn’t enough I have financially supported him on my own for four out of those six years.
The lack of support for the first four years was my fault; call it pride, stubbornness, wishful thinking I thought I could do it all on my own, I didn’t need my ex’s help financial, or otherwise.
Then two years ago it hit me...
I am only hurting my son by not pushing for the support he deserves. Yes, we would “occasionally” receive a few hundred dollars a couple times a year (I would always put that money in my son’s savings account) but, was it fair to him? That’s when I decided it was time to contact our states domestic relations department and put in an order for support.
While my situation is probably not typical there are many single parents out there who never seek the support their kids deserve. Not receiving your child support often means that you and your kids lack choices in life. You are solely responsible for all of your kid’s financial needs; activities, food, medical bills, every last penny. That’s a lot of pressure!
You are often forced to make choices you may not otherwise make if you had the support to fall back on. Such as…
· Calling in sick when you need to.
· Changing jobs on a whim.
· Saying yes to the new toy your child desperately wants and you can’t afford.
· Going back to school.
So what can you do?
If you are not receiving your child support, it is important for you to understand your rights as a custodial parent. Child support is a responsibility and an obligation, not something that should be dismissed or ignored by the non-custodial parent. Here are some basic facts you should know.
- Contact your local enforcement agency. Their goal is to make sure that the financial responsibility of raising children is equitable between you and your ex.
- Obtain a court order. A court order is a document issued by the court and signed by a judge, or other official, ordering the non-custodial parent to make child support payments. The court order will specify the amount and frequency payments should be made.
- Consider working with a private child support enforcement company. Often less expensive than an attorney these companies can help you get the support you and your kids deserve.
- Hire an attorney. While this may be the most expensive option, sometimes it is in your best interest to seek legal help in obtaining your support.
Know that you are not alone!
There are many single parents out there that assume the entire financial burden when it comes to parenting their children. Unfortunately, the systems put in place are not perfect and sometimes child support cases slip through the cracks.
- According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 25% of custodial parents who are not receiving the child support to which they are entitled live below the poverty line.
- And, over $106 billion is owed to custodial parents
The most important thing to remember when the child support doesn’t arrive is to keep a clear head, and try not to drag your children into child support issues. Knowing how to get the ball rolling when it comes to support is the first step to assuring your kids a brighter financial future.
Suzanne Cramer is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life Challenges. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @ where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check.