I often feel fortunate to have a background in social work and to use it in combination with the work that I do now as a Financial Consultant. A cornerstone to social work is the problem solving model, a useful way to identify and resolve issues with clients, in groups or in life in general. A very simple way to describe the process is that you identify the problem, look for solutions, evaluate alternatives and implement your plan.
Using this approach, I think is especially helpful when you feel overwhelmed or think that you have a plan in place that then goes off track. For women who are going through divorce, the awarding of child support seems like a ‘sure thing’. And in many states, there is a formula for determining the amount that will be awarded. Feeling like you know how much you are going to receive can provide a false sense of security, if you aren’t careful. And according to the US Census Bureau report, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2011, one third of awarded child support is uncollected. Additionally, only 43% of those awarded support, received full payments.
With these statistics in mind, it can make sense to use the problem solving approach to adjust, prepare and evaluate different ideas for financial security, if needed.
Even though the court may award you a specific amount, there may be reasons why you might not see those funds:
- Your spouse is laid-off, unemployed or works under the table: I have seen this happen in my own extended family. An unexpected lay-off can derail the best of intentions and often causes stress to both the recipient and payor of child support. If you largely build your budget around anticipated child support payments, this can go way off track rather quickly.
- Enforcing the order will cost you time, energy and money: Although there may be legal recourse for you, it may be tough financially to pay for a private lawyer throughout the process. You can go through local enforcement agencies to collect, but oftentimes they are overwhelmed by the volume of cases that they are handling.
- Your spouse remarries and has new dependents: Depending on where you live, the courts will look at these circumstances in different ways. They may reduce your support to divert resources to the new family.
So how to generate some new solutions to the problem of needing funds?
The best way is to try and head off this issue by not using your anticipated child support payments as the primary base for all your financial needs. In addition, establishing an emergency fund for you and your children should be a priority as soon as possible. Having a cushion of money readily available will allow you tackle those day-to-day items that often come up such as home or automobile repairs.
If you are getting the support you have been awarded, make sure to protect yourself from non-payment of support in the case that your ex was to suddenly pass away by utilizing life insurance. A policy with you as the beneficiary will be key – also ensure that you are receiving copies of statements as well.
Ideally you will get the support that you are awarded, but it makes sense to always be prepared with a plan and ideas for getting through tough times when you have to.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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