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Has your ex fallen behind on child support?

If your ex-spouse has ever fallen behind on child support payments, then you may have considered taking him or her to court. Depending on individual circumstances, a single missed payment could place a significant financial burden on a custodial parent, not to mention a series of missed payments.

In any case, protecting the child's best interests should always be the top priority, and custodial parents should not be afraid to do what is legally necessary to provide for their children. Ideally, parents who don't see eye to eye on financial and other matters will be able to shield the child from parental disputes. However, sometimes full-on family conflicts arise from money concerns.

Unpaid child support is a widespread problem in Florida and throughout the United States. According to a Census Bureau report, custodial parents did not receive more than $14 billion in due support payments in 2011. The Census Bureau also reported that two years ago 26.1 percent of custodial parents sought child-support assistance from enforcement offices or other government agencies.

One concern that occasionally crops up is that the receiving parent badly needs the unpaid support but doesn't want to involve the court. Unfortunately, legal enforcement is sometimes the only way to make an obligor parent make the ordered payments.

Something else the Census Bureau discovered is that noncustodial parents with more contact with their children were more likely to make full and timely payments. In other words, a workable parenting and child support plan should be carefully considered from the start in order to protect the child well into the future.

If a dispute arises, however, then it is important to be fully aware of your rights.

Source: The Washington Post, "Things can get ugly when family and money mix, especially over child support," Michelle Singletary, July 12, 2014

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