As soon as the divorce is finalized file an enforcement proceeding in family court seeking a willful violation,money judgment, interest, legal fees and incarceration if needed.
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Incarceration will only be imposed upon a finding of wilfull failure to pay, and then with a right to purge the contempt if he pays up by a certain date in lieu of the incarceration. The child support collection unit and the county attorney will often prosecute this for you if you are collecting through them. If you are not, submit a copy of the divorce decree ordering child support and finding a money judgment to that unit for collection and prosecution.
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Your attorney is correct. Until the judgment of divorce is final, the child support collection unit will not be able to assist you in collecting past arrears or any future obligations that become due. Similarly, since he "works off the books" certain enforcement mechanisms may be ineffectual. Working diligently with your attorney and the child support collection unit using their enforcement mechanisms appears to be your best resource.
I am a former Assistant Corporation Counsel to the City of New York and New York City Police and Fire Departments. I now handle all types of civil litigation, personal injury matters, divorce and family law issues (including, but not limited to, custody, visitation and child support). Feel free to contact me at (845) 735-1300 or through my email at email@example.com if you have any questions. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant to be legal advice.