Protection for freelancers?

I wasnt aware of such a platform and forum but kudos to you guys really! I had a query, since I am a freelancer what legal option can i avail of if my payments are delayed? This is a problem a lot of freelancers face, where work is demanded immediately but payments can be delayed to up to a year even. Sometimes many are lured in with 50% advance, while the balance is conveniently forgotten. Is there a need for a legal document pertaining to my terms and conditions that the client should sign before the assignment starts? if so, does this document hold water from a legal standpoint? Considering my payment is delayed already-what are my options? Is there a legal safety net for freelancers? How can I ensure that I am not left hovering to the client's offices begging for the clearance of my dues? Will this hamper my chances of future assignments because I'm sure clients will feel insecure if they realize that they can no longer pull the same stunt again? 

I'd be grateful for your opinion on this matter.

Thank you




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