A parent who does not obtain custody of the child needs to provide the other parent with a child maintenance contribution (alimony), which is determined both at the separation and the divorce stages of the court procedure.
The amount is calculated according to some predetermined criteria and depends on the contributor’s revenues. In principle, the amount of the alimony in the judgment is specified for different age brackets. In some cases, a contribution also needs to be paid for an ex-spouse. If there is a major change in the situation of either parent, the amount of the alimony fixed in the divorce judgement can be adapted accordingly. The court procedure can be initiated unilaterally.
In an unfortunately (and not very unlikely) event of the alimony not being paid, there are several ways to go about it. Firstly, you can approach the Service cantonal d’avance et de recouvrement des pensions alimentaires (SCARPA). If living in another canton than Geneva, similar services exist there.
SCARPA assists in obtaining alimony payments from the debtor and if this is not possible, it can initiate civil or penal proceedings. If your revenue is not over a certain bracket it can also provide you with alimony advances (over a limited period of time), which do not need to be reimbursed. To start a procedure with SCARPA, you need to fill in the following form.
In order to get hold of alimonies not paid in the past, you need to initiate a procedure with the Office cantonal des poursuites and fill in this form. The length of the process might vary and the end result depends on the financial situation of the debtor, such as his/her employment status and the existence of sufficient funds.
In an extreme case of finding yourself in a critical financial situation, you can benefit from social assistance. Enquire with your commune about the steps to take.
To sum up, if your ex is not paying the alimony, do not despair – the Swiss system is well organised in terms of enforcing these payments.