Some non-custodial parents try to avoid their responsibilities by ignoring them, hoping they go away. They hope that you give up or the state enforcing the child support order gives up. Putting himself before his children is as selfish an act as there is, but it’s all too common.
As of 2019, there were over 10.5 million child support cases with arrears, but only 6.7 million with payments made toward the arrears. Even one case where there is no progress being made on arrears is too many, let alone 3.8 million.
One tool to help you collect your arrears from a dad is to get a judgment. A judgment is a document you receive from the court that shows how much your ex owes you. He may think that he can avoid or delay the judgment by not appearing in court for the judgment to be finalized. He may not know that he doesn’t need to be there or even respond to the summons for you to get a judgment.
If your ex fails to show up for a hearing, you can still win the case right there, that day, if you requested a default judgment in your original petition. A default judgment is a decision made by the court in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant fails to appear in court.
To Get a Default Judgment
A judge may automatically enter a defendant “in default” once he has had the appropriate amount of time to respond to his summons, which varies by state. The defendant will then be given notice of the default judgment, providing him a chance to fight it. Once another state-specific allotted time has passed, the court will finalize the judgment.
If the judge doesn’t automatically enter a default judgment, you’ll need to file a request with the clerk. You’ll need to prove he was served his notice by filling out an affidavit stating that the defendant was served, how he was served, who served him, and the place and time he was served.
You can also include a request for a default motion in your petition for child support or judgment for your arrears. By filing it as early as possible, you give yourself extra layers of protection. Even if you’re confident he will be there, it’s best to have a backup plan to make sure your case moves forward.
This is not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice specific to your case, you should contact an attorney.