Child Support: None This Month? Five Steps to Help Collect from Your Ex

You’re owed child support after a divorce, but the money isn’t coming. What can you do?
This article provides instruction for collecting from a delinquent ex-spouse. Before contacting your child support attorney, first contact a tribal child support agency. Provide them with your divorce and child support details.


You’re owed child support, but the money isn’t coming. What can you do? Experts say successful child support collections are on the rise thanks in part to stronger laws and an increase in the number of resources available to parents. Many of these resources can be found at the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement’s Web site: (

“There has been a dramatic improvement in the past 20 years,” says Geraldine Jensen, founder of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support and the author of “Child Support: A Complete Reference.” “The biggest one is collecting child support through income withholding. When they get paid, their child support gets paid. That has literally doubled collections in the U.S.”

According to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, more than 69 percent of child support in the United States is paid through income withholding. According to the office’s 2006 fiscal year report, almost $24 billion in child support payments were collected and distributed, up from $21 billion in 2003. “If you become educated and know your legal rights, you can guide your case through the system,” says Jensen who served on the U.S. Commission of Interstate Child Support and played a key role in developing and passing child support enforcement laws for paternity establishment, income withholding and federal criminal non support laws.

Jensen urges parents to use these state and federal government resources to enforce their child support payments.

STEP 1: Contact your state or Tribal child support agency. 

Local agencies can help you make sure you have a legal child support order in effect. These agencies can also help establish paternity, if necessary. You can find your state or tribe’s agency by clicking on the links provided at this federal Office of Child Support Enforcement Web page: ( “I recommend people use the government because they now have these new tools, income withholding and passport suspension and they can attach commissions and bonuses through automation. You don’t have to wait for a caseworker to do something,” says Jensen, who offers child support collection tips at her website: (

STEP 2: Supply the agency with all the information that can help your case.
The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement’s Handbook ( offers a multitude of tips for tracking down delinquent child support payments. It recommends parents provide the following information about the non-custodial parent to their local agency: name, address and Social Security number name and address of current or recent employer names of friends, relatives and any organizations he or she might join pay stubs, tax and bank statements or any other information about his or her income and assets physical description or photograph children’s birth certificates if trying to establish paternity, include letters or notes where the alleged father has said or implied that he is the father of the child your child support order, divorce decree, or separation agreement if you have one records of any child support received in the past information about your income and assets information about expenses, such as your child’s health care, daycare, or special needs(…)

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