There are no recent statistics on unpaid child support, but the Office of Child Support Enforcement reported $108 billion in outstanding support payments in 2009. While some parents just refuse to pay, others are simply unable to. Fortunately, there are options in Pennsylvania for parents who cannot afford to make child support payments and those who are not receiving their payments.
It may help to keep in mind that child support and child custody are separate from each other, and visitation rights should never be taken away if that parent is unable to pay child support. Alternatively, it is never helpful for the non-custodial parent to withhold child support because his or her visitation rights have been violated. Both parents should be involved with the children. This not only avoids legal trouble down the road, but it may help the non-custodial parent be more invested in the children both personally and financially.
The custodial parent may consider keeping child support payments separate from the budget, particularly if he or she cannot depend on receiving them consistently. In situations like this, it may help for the parents to discuss what is possible for the non-custodial parent to pay. In many cases, that parent can request a child support modification from the family law court that fits his or her financial circumstances.
Working out issues concerning the children can be very challenging and emotional, particularly if the parents did not part on amicable terms. Parents on both sides of this situation may find it helpful to seek assistance from someone experienced in Pennsylvania family law. Working out new child support arrangements or enforcing a support order may help the non-custodial parent meet his or her obligations and the children's needs.
Source: US News and World Report, What to Do When Your Ex Won't Pay Child Support, Geoff Williams, Nov. 20, 2013