How is unpaid child support enforced in California?

| Apr 19, 2021 | Child Custody |

Under California family law, child support is often an important part of a custody case. Paying the required amount is critical for the child’s needs to be met. That includes a safe place to live, clothes, school supplies, medical coverage and support for extracurricular activities. However, some parents fail to make the payments on time or in full. In these circumstances, knowing how child support enforcement is handled in this state is key.

Steps to take to enforce a child support order

The parent who is supposed to receive child support has options to have the order enforced. First, the child support agency must be informed that the payments are delinquent. A copy of the order should be provided. There are various consequences for parents who are not paying their child support. These include freezing bank accounts, suspending driver’s licenses and professional licenses, informing credit bureaus and possibly negatively impacting the person’s credit score, and intercepting disability payments, workers’ compensation or tax refunds.

As the amount that is past due rises, the penalties grow in severity. When the parent owes more than $2,500, attempts to renew a passport will be denied until the payments are made. Wages can be garnished to pay the support. If the parent is deemed able to pay and does not, he or she can be found in contempt of court and might be put in jail. Even if the parent has moved out of state, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act can be used to enforce the order.

Experienced professionals may help with unpaid child support

Parents who are having trouble making their child support payments and have a legitimate reason for it are advised to try to have the order modified. An example would be unexpected job loss. If the payments are not made, the parent who is supposed to be receiving them should be cognizant of how to address the situation. Having experienced family law representation may be helpful.