Theoretically, if your ex was ordered to pay you child support, it means you’ll get monthly help buying things for your child and paying bills that relate to him or her. While this money shouldn’t be used as your own income, it does help to stretch what you earn a lot farther because you only have to cover half of the costs on your own.

That’s all great in theory, but what if your ex ignores the court order and won’t pay? No matter what that piece of paper says, in the real world, you still don’t have enough money to make ends meet. What can be done?

The court may take a number of different actions, depending on the situation and how long this has been going on. There’s a difference between someone who missed one payment accidentally and someone who refuses to pay each month. In any case, tactics that may be used could include:

— Garnishing your ex’s wages and sending the money directly to you. — Not paying out tax return money that is owed to your ex, but sending it to you instead. — Suspending a driver’s license, a business license, or an occupational license. — Seizing some of your ex’s property, which could then be sold to cover the costs.

In a perfect world, your ex will be glad to send you the money every month for the benefit of the child. The world is far from perfect, though, and things don’t always go as they should. When this happens, you need to know what legal steps you can take to protect your rights and your child.

Source: FindLaw, “Enforcement of Child Support: FAQ’s,” accessed Dec. 22, 2016