NON-PAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE LAWYER
When either parent is ordered by the courts to pay child maintenance or spousal maintenance to their ex-spouse, failure to do so can result in failure to fulfil parental or marital obligations, which is a crime.
A parent’s obligation to care and provide for their children is absolute, and it does not end with a divorce. That is why, if a parent fails to pay child maintenance, the Spanish Criminal Code establishes a very severe consequence: when a parent does not pay for two consecutive months or four non-consecutive months, he or she is committing a crime which can be punished with serving time in prison.
WHAT TO DO IF…
It is often the case that certain child maintenance payments that have been ordered by the court or even agreed to between the parties can be paid for a certain amount of time, but then circumstances change and it is no longer possible. The obvious case is when a person loses their job.
In these cases, the most important thing is to act as quickly as possible to avoid being guilty of a crime. The best course of action is usually to request that the arrangement made be modified to reduce the child maintenance payments, but often it’s enough if both parents come to an agreement.
What you must absolutely never do is stop paying without giving any kind of explanation or clarifying the underlying motives; using unemployment as leverage to reduce payments to a minimum is also not an option. You must always bear in mind that child maintenance is money destined towards caring for your children, and even though you are separated or divorced you continue to have the same obligations with regards to them.
EXAMPLES OF FAILURE TO MAKE MAINTENANCE PAYMENTS
The court ordered maintenance payments which are much too high and I can’t pay them, especially since my wife doesn’t spend the money on our children but on herself. Since I thought this was unfair, I stopped making the child maintenance payments and now I’m being charged with a crime.
When they fired me I talked to my wife because I could no longer keep paying her the same amount of spousal maintenance, and she said she understood and that it was all OK. But after three months without paying, she accused me of failure to comply with court-mandated maintenance payments because we never put our agreement in writing.
I was accused of failure to make maintenance payments, but I was acquitted because I was able to prove that, even though I didn’t pay the full amount, I did always pay the maximum amount I was able to. I also proved I got rid of all unnecessary expenses before I stopped making payments. On top of that, I had requested modifications be made to our arrangement before my wife filed a report against me.