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Obtaining owed child support and alimony

Although Maryland operates a child support enforcement agency in accordance with the Social Security Act and courts that issue alimony orders, it can still be difficult for divorcees to collect the money they are owed by former spouses.

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that less than 50 percent of custodial parents receive the full amount that they are owed for child support. Almost 25 percent of such parents receive nothing. Statistics on alimony payments are less concrete, but many divorce experts report that spousal support can be just as difficult to obtain.

Parents who are not receiving the child support payments they are owed are advised to contact Maryland's child support enforcement office, as the state can take several actions to collect the delinquent funds. For example, it may garnish the non-custodial parent's wages, place liens on his or her vehicle or home, intercept certain types of benefits, penalize his or her credit score or even file criminal charges. In general, parents should be able to get their owed child support money if they are proactive.

Obtaining delinquent alimony payments can be more difficult, as there is not a government agency devoted to enforcing them. However, individuals can take their ex-spouses to court, where a judge may take punitive action. However, experts say it can still be difficult acquiring owed spousal support, as it can be easy for ex-spouses to lie about earnings or hide assets.

Experts suggest keeping records and receipts of delinquent and completed payments. Those who have yet to finalize their divorce are advised to have their spouses allow them to view their credit reports in their divorce settlements.

Source: Forbes, "How Can a Divorcing Woman Get the Child Support, Alimony She is Owed?" Jeff Landers, Dec. 14, 2011

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