11 Oct 17

Can returning to court for enforcement cause him to lose his job?

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If your ex hasn’t been fulfilling the terms of a divorce agreement, then you can let the court know about it for enforcement. This occurs most often when the divorce agreement includes your ex paying you either spousal support or child support.

You may be wondering if your ex will lose his job as a result of taking him to court for enforcement. Whether your ex loses his job would be his employer’s decision, but there are actions the court could take that would make your ex more likely to end up unemployed.

How a Court Enforces Spousal Support and Child Support Agreements

When your ex hasn’t met his spousal support or child support obligations and you take him to court for that, the court will typically require that he pay any back support that he owes and stick to the payment schedule going forward. Your ex could also end up owing penalties.

If your ex consistently doesn’t pay, the court has several methods it can use to collect.

Garnishing Wages

This is one of the simpler methods of getting someone to pay the required support amount. The court sets this up with your ex’s employer, and a portion of his wages will then go towards his required support payments. His employer will pay you that amount directly after taking it out of your ex’s check. Although this method can work well, it won’t if your ex is self-employed.

Taking Tax Refunds

If your ex is supposed to get a tax refund, the court may be able to withhold that from him and instead put it towards support payments. Of course, this will only work if your ex is due a tax refund, although the threat of it can motivate him to make his support payments.

Seizing Property or Assets

The court can seize property or other assets from your ex, and then sell it to cover what he owes. This method is less common, since it requires the court to determine what assets your ex has and repossess them, but it can be effective.

So far, none of the methods are likely to result in your ex losing his job. The following methods may have job-related consequences for your ex.

Suspending or Denying a License

If your ex has failed to pay a significant amount, then the court may decide to suspend one or more of his licenses. This can include occupational licenses, such as a teaching license or a medical license, a business license or even a driver’s license. When a person owes too much in child support, the U.S. Department of State can prevent them from getting a passport.

Losing certain licenses can lead to a job loss if the license is required for that job. Loss of a driver’s license can also make your ex’s everyday life more difficult and lead to job loss if he’s unable to get to work anymore.


Finally, your ex could be held in contempt of court and sentenced to jail for failing to make his support payments. Courts typically try to avoid this whenever possible, because if your ex goes to jail, it’s likely he’ll lose his job, and then he’ll have no source of income when he gets out. That means that he once again won’t be able to pay, and the cycle will repeat itself. Still, for repeat offenders, jail is sometimes the only viable method of punishment.

It’s unlikely that your ex will lose his job the first time you take him to court for enforcement, but if he continues to break the divorce agreement, then the consequences will become more severe. A qualified divorce lawyer can let you know what to expect, including potential punishments the court could impose on your ex, and guide you through the process of taking your ex to court for enforcement.

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