Q: Hi I’m a recently divorced mom of two children. My divorce was finalized on May 12 and I share custody with my x husband
Due to verbal abuse I fled my home as he refused to leave. He now has the house and I rent. I’m not working quite f/t yet but taking as many hours as I can. He is supposed to pay for reasonable child activities but either says no or doesn’t answe me. Please can you help? I had to borrow the money for the divorce lawyer from my parents.
A: You should likely first have an attorney write a letter to him on formal letterhead, sent via regular and certified mail, demanding immediate payment and threatening to take legal action if he does not comply with the divorce judgment. Second, if he refuses or fails to respond within a specified timeframe, file an enforcement motion pursuant to Court Rule 5:3-7(b). More specifically, that Rule provides as follows: "On finding that a party has violated an alimony, financial maintenance, or child support order the court may, in addition to remedies provided by R. 1:10-3, grant any of the following remedies, either singly or in combination: (1) fixing the amount of arrearages and entering a judgment upon which interest accrues; (2) requiring payment of arrearages on a periodic basis; (3) suspension of an occupational license or driver's license consistent with law; (4) economic sanctions; (5) participation by the party in violation of the order in an approved community service program; (6) incarceration, with or without work release; (7) issuance of a warrant to be executed upon the further violation of the judgment or order; and (8) any other appropriate equitable remedy."
Further, pursuant to Court Rule 5:3-5(c), you should demand reimbursement of your counsel fees and costs incurred in filing that motion. Indeed, there is a specific statutory provision in New Jersey law generally requiring reimbursement of counsel fees incurred collecting unpaid child support. (As you may know, the obligation to pay child-related expenses is merely a component of a parent's overall child support obligation.) Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23a, "[i]f a party in any action to enforce and collect child support ordered by a court ... has incurred counsel fees, the court shall require the defaulting party to pay those counsel fees unless the court finds that the default was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of counsel fees unjust. The court shall determine the appropriate award for counsel fees and shall consider the financial circumstances of the parties and whether each acted in good faith."
I strongly recommend that you take these matters seriously and retain an attorney. Strategic and aggressive counsel will help to maximize your odds of success in Court. Many of the attorneys here on Justia, including myself, would be willing to sit down with you free of charge to explore the facts, explain the law, and address the likely timeline, costs, and range of possible outcomes. Please reach out to one of us.
Teresa L. Reichek agrees with this answer
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