How Does A Single Parent Manage Without Child Support After Divorce?

Child support is supposed to be paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lesser-earning spouse when a divorce occurs, but what happens if your ex refuses to pay? How does a single parent manage without child support after divorce? While the thought of surviving on one income- and in some cases no income if you’re unemployed- may seem overwhelming, there are some actionable steps you can take to get your finances under control.

Pursue the child support that is owed.

The first step should always be to pursue the child support that is owed. While this may entail hiring an attorney, in many cases you can have the child support collected through your state’s child support enforcement unit. Each state operates differently, but in most cases, the enforcement unit will garnish your ex’s wages in order to get the child support owed to you.

If you have a court order already in place for child support and your ex is refusing to pay, they may face legal consequences, and in some cases, jail time. Most child support cases can be resolved outside of court, but if you do need to hire an attorney, there are many pro-bono lawyers who will take your case, which can be a huge cost-savings.

Consider getting a second job.

Getting a second job outside of the home can be a real challenge, especially if you are the primary caregiver for your children. The good news is, many second jobs can be done virtually, allowing you to be home with your children while working at the same time.

A few work-from-home second jobs to consider include:

  • Content writer
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcriptionist
  • Proofreader or editor
  • Customer service associate
  • Data entry
  • Online tutor
  • Social media influencer
  • Affiliate marketer
  • Bookkeeper
  • Podcaster
  • Vlogger
  • Product tester
  • Online survey taker
  • Small business owner (Amazon, Etsy, eBay…)

Getting a second job outside of the home can be a great way to give you some free time away from your children, and give you the chance to build relationships with co-workers. This is particularly important for stay-at-home parents who crave those adult relationships after being home with their children all day. If you have a friend or grandparent who can watch your children while you work, this is an excellent opportunity to make some extra money and give yourself a mental health boost at the same time.

Take a withdrawal or loan against your 401k.

If you have a 401k or received one in your divorce settlement through a Qualified Domestic Relation Order (QDRO), you may be able to make a withdrawal or loan against it. The tax implications vary for each action, as does the amount you’re able to take.

A loan is something you payback, but this option may not be available if you obtained the money through a QDRO. Loans are typically tax-exempt, as long as you pay them back within the specified timeframe. On the contrary, withdrawals are taxed and counted as income, so you will want to speak with your tax advisor before doing this to ensure you won’t run into trouble once tax season rolls around.

Check into public assistance.

When you’re faced with the struggle of putting food on the table for your family, now is not the time to be prideful. There’s nothing wrong with taking public assistance if you are in need. Most states offer some form of public assistance, including food stamps, free or low-cost health insurance, public housing, and help with home energy costs.

You’ll want to start by contacting your local Department of Social Services. You will have to fill out an application and provide documentation related to:

  • Income
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of residence
  • Utility statements
  • Bank statements
  • Separation Agreement

The parameters for public assistance are very strict, and there are specific income requirements based on the number of people living in your household, their ages, and whether or not any of you are disabled. The caseworker assigned to your case should be able to answer any questions you have about the application process and beyond.

Lower the interest rates on your credit cards.

Many credit card companies will work with you if you’re enduring a hardship. They may offer you a lower interest rate, which will reduce your monthly payment. In some cases, they may even give you a grace period on when your payments are due. This is also a great way to work towards getting out of debt. Lowering your interest rate from 24% to 12% or less can have a huge impact.

Credit card companies are used to people calling and asking to have their interest lowered, so this is another instance where shame shouldn’t come into play. There’s no use in paying more interest than necessary, especially when you are struggling financially. You won’t know until you ask, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for help.

Managing without child support can be scary, frustrating, and overwhelming, but there are ways you can get your financial situation under control and provide for your family on your own. Knowing the cash flow in your household is crucial, along with trying out these tips. By taking both small and big steps, you can achieve financial security for you and your family.

More Split.fyi Resources:

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

Split.fyi Resources
Split.fyi Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview

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