The unfortunate complexities of child support

One of the more complex elements involved in a divorce is child support. The custody side -- complicated though it may be -- can usually be worked out between the two couples before they go to court. In many cases, the splitting spouses agree to joint or shared custody. Sometimes the battle for custody may turn ugly, but in general, the spouses realize that their child needs to have both parents involved in their life.

However, with child support it's a different beast. Yes, support can be agreed to before going to court just like custody. The spouses may get together and enter mediation, or just hold some discussion and negotiations to reach a divorce settlement, and ultimately reach an agreeable solution to their child support issue. But the complications come with the child support process and system.

Just getting the agreement can be hard enough -- but once the payments are supposed to start coming in, the trouble begins. Many paying parents either don't pay enough or don't pay at all, leaving the receiving spouse in a difficult spot. They need that money to help pay for things that their child needs. In addition, the system itself for distributing and tracking these payments is often inadequate.

So what can a receiving spouse do if his or her ex is neglecting their child support payments? Well, like we've said, it's easy to get lost in the system and a receiving spouse may not know where to turn. In such a scenario, you should consult an attorney to help you navigate these stressful times. You can then move on with the appropriate legal action to recoup some of those support payments.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Billions of dollars in child support go unpaid yearly," Emily Alpert Reyes, Nov. 20, 2013