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Understanding Child Support Enforcement in California

by | Dec 31, 2023 | Child Support

Child support laws are complex and often challenging to enforce. If you have concerns or are experiencing issues with child support enforcement in California, this may be a good time to speak with a skilled attorney to discuss your situation.

If you are seeking child custody and child support enforcement in California, talk with an experienced Divorce lawyer to get your questions answered today.

Child Support Enforcement: What if Child Support is Not Paid?

There can be serious consequences if child support is not paid. If a parent can pay but has purposely not paid, this is a serious offense. Child support payments are defined by law, and failure to not pay can result in being found in contempt of court. 

In addition to legal consequences, failure to pay child support can negatively affect a person’s credit score. Further complications may ensue such as liens being placed on their property. 

The circumstances for a person’s not paying may affect the outcomes. For example, if a parent’s circumstances have changed affecting their ability to pay, it is prudent to apply to modify a support order with the court. 

Failure to pay child support without a modification is considered a failure to follow the court’s order. This can result in serious consequences such as criminal charges.

How Support Orders are Enforced in California

To enforce the court order, the person owed the money needs to take a copy of the support order to the appropriate authority. This is often a local child support agency. 

There are specific steps to take that can be used to enforce the support order or collect owed child support. 

Usually, filing criminal charges for contempt of court is a last resort option. 

Resources for Unpaid Child Support in California

There are many resources in California to assist the receiving parent in locating the non-custodial parent and collecting the amount owed.

In California, the California Department of Child Support Services and the California Local Child Support Agency Offices have many resources to help parents.

Many child support offices are closed to the public or offer public assistance only during limited hours. The website above lists the current operating hours of each county or support agency.

California agencies have several resources to help locate the non-custodial parent. The agencies offer services to help get case information online, change a child support amount, make and receive payments, and release license and passport suspensions.

What if the Parent Moves out of California?

In the United States, all 50 states have adopted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. This law spells out the key concept that one parent cannot move out of state to avoid paying child support. 

If a parent has moved out of the state where the child support order was entered, no other state can change the order if either the parent or the child for whom the support was intended to benefit still lives in that state.

For instance, if child support was entered in California, and the parent liable for support moved to Arizona, he or she needs to modify the order in California. Further, the liable parent is still liable for the amount of support ordered by the California court. It does not matter if the liable parent lives in California or somewhere else.

Penalties for Unpaid Child Support in California

There are a range of penalties for not paying child support. These can include frozen bank accounts, suspension of driver’s licenses, and suspension of professional licenses. Credit scores may be affected, as the unpaid support is reported to credit bureaus. 

Monies may be intercepted such as tax refunds, worker’s compensation awards, or disability payments. Passports will be denied until the balance comes current if the non-custodial parent owes more than $2,500 in child support.

Child support enforcement in California has serious penalties. Criminal sanctions and potential garnishment of wages may be included in the penalties. 

Talk to an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

If you are concerned about child support enforcement, the Law Offices of David M. Lederman is here to help. We are here to guide you through the difficult divorce process.

If you have any questions about child support enforcement in Antioch, Moraga, and across Contra Costa, Alameda, and Solano Counties, please get in touch. We are happy to talk with you. Call 925-522-8889 or send an email to set up a consultation to discuss child custody, child support enforcement, or other divorce-related issues in California.

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