Atlanta, GA- One of primary reasons behind divorce settlement is to assure that children get the financial support they need to keep them from slipping in poverty. But there are many instances in which one spouse is ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent, but refuses to do so.

Last week, in response to a letter from a reader, Mona Chalabi of FiveThirtyEight blog revealed that in the U.S. parents owe $14.3 billion in child support.

While crunching data from the U.S. Census, Chalabi also found that, contrary to popular misconception, men are not the deadbeats they have been made out to be and that women are more likely to behind or can’t make their child support payments. In 2011, Chalabi found, 32 percent of custodial fathers didn’t receive child support. In contrast, only 25 percent of mothers did not receive any child support.

Those figures do show that women are more lax when it comes to making their child support payments, but, as Chalabi found, women ordered to pay child support make less than their male counterparts. To read more checkout Chalabi’s data here.

It is alarming that so many parents either refuse to or unable to pay their child support. If the paying spouse is experiencing financial problems and can’t make their payments, the amount can be adjusted to a more realistic amount through the courts so they are no longer in defiance.

But what can spouse do if their spouse just flat out refuses to pay their child support even though they can afford those payments? What can a custodial parent do?

If you spouse refuses to pay you child support as prescribed, you should first contact an Atlanta divorce law firm. They will file a petition for contempt on your behalf, this will get the legal ball rolling. Once that petition is processed the courts can then force your former spouse to comply with your divorce agreement. That can include garnishing their wages or get them to agree to a monthly payment plan if they refuse to make their monthly support payments. In the worst cases, a non-paying spouse can be jailed until the court sees fit.

Sometimes you may not even have to go through the courts to get a spouse to pay child support. A simple reminder from your divorce attorney will be the impetus you ex needs to pay make their child support payments.

But before you get into a situation where your spouse refuses to pay child support, you need to assure your divorce settlement is reasonable and any child support demands you make are within your estranged spouse’s ability to pay. This can be done by have a divorce law firm help you negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement. While child support payments can be adjusted down the road, a more equitable settlement from the start won’t create the bitterness and anger that compels one spouse to defy their divorce settlement terms.