Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)
314.727.4880

Staying “Connected” To Your Former Spouse Can Help When It Comes To Collecting Child Support

“Stay in touch with your ‘ex’ and keep things friendly!” This may be the last advice you’d expect from your divorce attorney, but I give it all the time, particularly for divorcing couples with children. The main reason is obvious—a positive relationship is healthier for the children.

 

But, there’s another reason to stay on good terms: You will be better equipped to track down that former spouse, should he/she fall behind in their child support payments. Plus, with cordial relations (dare I say friendship), it is less likely that your “ex” will withhold payment, absent a financial hardship, simply to cause you pain, which often happens with couples that keep on fighting long after the divorce is final..

 

Some of you may say that you can’t imagine your “ex” not meeting their support obligation. He/she is too well-paid, and too attached to their kids, to ever let that happen. So, why go out of your way to keep informed about their life or make “nicey-nice” when they come around to pick up the kids?

 

The reason is that things change. Former spouses remarry, have more kids, get their jobs and paychecks downsized, suffer investment losses and unexpected expenses. When this happens, that child support payment doesn’t seem so important, particularly if the parent receiving it has been cold and difficult at every turn.

 

But, whatever the reasons, parents with the best intentions fall behind. Initially, just by a couple weeks, or they skip a month, and the receiving parent lets it slide or responds with a telephone reminder. For many, that gets things back on schedule. However, if the pattern extends to more than a month behind, the parent that stayed “connected” has a real advantage versus the one who lost touch.

 

The best tools for getting your payments back on track are to react quickly when the problem first occurs and to have as much information about your “ex” as possible to track them down and their assets. Minimally, you should stay current on as much of the following information about your former spouse as you can:

  • Current home address. That is, where he/she physically resides.
  • Current employer and that employer’s address. If self-employed, the address of that business and the names and addresses of any customers.
  • The name, location and account numbers for bank and investment accounts.
  • The location of any real estate they own.
  • Their social security number and the federal tax identification number for any businesses they own

 

Even in friendly relationships, assembling this information may seem impossible, but here are some tips on how to go about it. First, ask your “ex” to keep you up-to-date on certain information. For example, his/her current employment information would be important should you ever have to make contact in an emergency. Also, there may be forms that you will need completed, such as from schools or health insurers, that will yield some of this data. Have him/her complete those forms and route them back through you and retain a copy.

 

Before cashing your support check, copy each, and save these records.  If the payment is by direct deposit, acquire that information through your bank. Stay on good terms with mutual friends/associates who can get you “caught up” should you loose track of your “ex”. Go back through your files for tax returns and other documents that originated during the marriage for information. Also, if he/she had a separate brokerage account during the marriage, it may still be active.