Phoenix, AZ- The point of a divorce settlement is to assure that children and former spouses are given the financial support they need to live in the way they’ve become accustomed to. In some cases, an estranged spouse or child is just one support payment away from poverty. With the bitterness of divorce, it isn’t unusual for some people refuse to honor their divorce settlement–divorce attorneys see it all the time- and never pay their exes the support they agreed on. Fortunately, there are ways to get a spouse to pay up.

In some cases, the person ordered to pay support may lose their job or see a drop in their income and can longer meet the obligations of a divorce settlement.

Take for example the divorce or actor Terrence Howard who says he felt pressured to agree to spousal support payments he says he can no longer afford to pay. The “Iron Man” star divorce wife number two in 2011 and was ordered to pay $325,000 in spousal support which works out to be $5,800 a month.

Unfortunately for Howard, this isn’t the only spousal support he is paying. He is also paying his second wife nearly $6,000 a month in child and spousal support, TMZ reported. After making that payment, Howard says, he only $5,878 left over. He says that isn’t enough to meet his obligations

Howard is going about this the right way, he’s going through the courts. He’s formally asking a judge to adjust his support and filed a motion to have those payments adjusted, according to TMZ. Whether or not he is successful depends on if he is able to prove he doesn’t earn enough to honor the settlement terms of his third divorce.

Howard many be following the correct legal channels, but many estranged spouses simply ignore the court’s divorce decree and make no support child support or spousal support payments. The spouse who should be receiving support payments may be unsure what they can do, what options they have to get their ex to honor their divorce agreement.

If your ex is not complying with the divorce settlement, the first thing you need to do is contact a divorce attorney and file a petition for contempt. Once this petition is filed, the courts can force your spouse to honor the divorce settlement through wage garnishment or can send them to jail until they agree to make monthly payments.

When it comes to child support, depending on the state you live in, you can notify the authorities at your local child support enforcement office. They can take steps to collect child support for you. In extreme cases, your spouse can be jailed for refusing to make support payments, but that should be the last resort after all other options for collecting support have failed.

If your divorce included provisions ordering your spouse to pay off specific marital debts and they defy those orders, there are few options available to you. Your credit can be taking a serious hit because of your spouse’s refusal to pay, but your only recourse is to get a judgment and file a lien against their property. The courts don’t have the authority to jail someone for failing to pay a debt.

If you are having trouble getting your ex to honor your divorce settlement, the divorce attorneys at USA Attorneys can help.