Mother seeks Legal Eagle’s advice on child support

What action can be taken by a single mother of three minors (divorced two years), when ex-husband/father is currently four months behind in child support? The father does not have a paycheck from an employer. Child support has been paid sporadically.

The answer to this question somewhat depends on the nature of the paperwork filed during your divorce and the circumstances that may have changed since that time.

It is possible your divorce was completed with only an oral agreement regarding child support. This seems to happen with increasing frequency with the linear availability of purported divorce “forms” on the Internet that do not formally address child support.

If no written order exists concerning child support, then it will be problematic for you to now retroactively seek back support. You can, however, work to get a proper order in place to allow for the collection of support in the future.

However, I recommend in either case to further review this matter with an attorney.

Another situation exists where a written order was entered into at the time of the divorce, but the circumstances of the parties have now changed. In the event that this is the case, a support order can only be modified if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.”

For instance, a substantial change in circumstances may exist if the total child support due to either party changes by 10 percent or more based on the proper calculations. A substantial change in circumstances also may result from a child entering into a different age bracket.

All things being equal and assuming that a valid order exists, you now need to seek collection. The collection process itself can be complicated and difficult.

Fortunately, there are proper agencies and individuals that you can contact that will aid you with this process.

If you live in Harvey County, the District Court Trustee’s Office does an excellent job of handling these matters by working with individuals in your situation.

The Harvey County District Court Trustee’s Office can be reached at 283-6547.

The District Court Trustee’s Office further partners with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services in handling child support enforcement matters.

SRS has sophisticated mechanisms in place for tracking individuals that owe child support and ensuring they follow through with their legal obligations.

Reading between the lines in your question, however, if your husband is unemployed the amount that he now owes may be difficult to actually collect.

Further, as identified above and even worse for your potential goals, there may be a substantial change in circumstances warranting a lesser amount to be paid by your husband.

You would be wise to contact the Harvey County District Court Trustee’s Office or an attorney soon to discuss your situation.