Is my ex allowed to stop alimony or child support payments without a court order?

The short answer is no. The difference is whether they are “allowed to” or whether they “do”. Most cases do not take place in a vacuum. This means that while your ex is not legally allowed to stop alimony or child support payments without a court order, sometimes they do.


So what should you NOT do?

Do NOT take any retaliation steps. Do NOT do the same behavior they are doing. If your ex stops alimony or child support payments without a court order, do NOT withhold any minor children’s visitation from them. This will only make you look as bad as they do in front of a judge.

Courts want people to come to them with “clean hands”. Showing the court that you did everything the proper way, through the proper channels, will go a long way in getting the relief you seek. But when you engage in bad behavior, you look no better than your ex. If you engage in bad behavior like your ex, chances are the courts will not help either one of you.


So what should you do?

After the first missed payment, you should send some type of writing to your ex regarding the missed payment. As hard as it can be, keep the writing short, simple, and polite. You could say something such as: “I noticed I haven’t received this month’s alimony/child support payment. Is everything ok?” There could be a hundred different reasons your child support payment is delayed that has nothing to do with your ex – holiday, office closure, a hurricane, an illness, etc. Try understanding the situation before you start accusing. A court will want to know what steps you took trying to figure out or understand the situation before you head into court.


If you receive alimony or child support monthly, you should write at least once a week to no more than three times a week, until you receive a satisfactory answer. Any writing will show your attempts to contact your ex regarding the situation. This could be text, email, or the Talking Parents app. At the same time, make sure your writing can be saved and stored. You may need to show the court the writing exchange. Not having your proof at the court hearing will make your position less likely to win. You need evidence to show you tried to resolve this issue before court.


Once a second payment is missed, you should consider court action. You will need to have a copy of the Order, Final Judgment, or other documents (signed by a Judicial Officer) that provides for your alimony or child support payment. You will need to file a Motion for Contempt for your ex’s failure to abide by a Court Order. A Motion for Contempt asks the Court to make your ex catch up that payment. If you are handling your case on your own (also called “pro se”), you will also need to set your Motion for Hearing. At the hearing, you will need to show the Court your Order and your writings showing you tried to resolve the matter without a Court. After hearing from both sides, the Judge will make a ruling.

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