Enforcement and Collection of Child Support

What you can do if your ex-partner does not pay child support in California 

The separation or divorce process most of the time can create many financial difficulties, particularly for the primary custodial parent responsible for most of the costs of raising the child. Even though each parent is separate, both are still financially responsible for the child even if one parent has no physical or legal custody. This makes support payments quite essential to provide for a child’s basic needs. So often we have many clients come to us with the question: what do I do if my ex-partner won’t pay child support?

Collecting child support when the obligated parent refuses to pay is an emotional and trying process. If the other parent pays only a portion or does not pay at all, enforcement action is necessary. Our Family Law Attorneys will assist you in making sure child support payments are regularly made and in the correct amounts. At the outset, we will quickly assess your case and discuss the current legal methods of child support enforcement available to you to enforce your support order.

Enforcement actions. Once you have obtained a valid order for child support, and the other parent refuses to pay, you may enforce the payment in several ways.

Wage withholding. The best and most effective method of child support enforcement is by garnishing the wages of the obligated parent. California law requires a mandatory and immediate wage assignment in connection with all support orders. At the time the support order is made, the wage assignment is given to the place of employment of the obligated parent. The employer must honor the wage assignment and deduct child support from salary or wages, but without any repercussion to the obligated parent/employee being garnished. Wages will be withheld unless he or she: 1) can show good cause why it should not be done, or 2) has an alternative arrangement for child support.
Liens. Once a child support order is established by the court, an Abstract of Support Judgment is recorded as a lien where the obligated parent owns a house. After it is recorded, the parent that is owed child support has an interest in the property so they may collect unpaid child support from it. If the obligated parent tries to sell it or refinance the property, they may not until the lien is paid in full to you.
Interception of funds. If an obligated parent refuses to pay court-ordered child support, their funds may be intercepted to pay past due child support or “arrears.” Types of funds that can be intercepted include, but are not limited to: federal and state income tax refunds, social security, unemployment funds, state disability insurance, worker’s compensation, and California lottery winnings.
Health insurance. Pursuant to a child support court order, a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) provides notification to the obligated parent’s employer to enroll a child in the parent’s health insurance plan. It authorizes a deduction of health care premiums from the parent’s earnings.
Credit reporting. When an obligated parent fails to pay child support, credit-reporting agencies will be notified on a monthly basis of their failure to pay. This generally adversely impacts the obligated parent’s overall credit score.
License suspension. Owing back child support may result in the obligated parent’s licenses being revoked to encourage compliance. Example of the types of licenses include: drivers and recreational licenses and licenses for doctors, lawyers, contractors, teachers and truck drivers.
Suspension of passport. Child support arrears are reported to the U.S. State Department. They may deny the parent’s passport renewal or request.
Contempt proceedings. An obligated parent may become in contempt of court if they fail to pay child support and the court determines they have the ability to pay and refuse to do so.
Bankruptcy. An unpaid child support debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy when an obligated parent files.

Department of Child Support Service (DCSS). DCSS can assist you with enforcement of back child support if you cannot afford a private attorney. It is advisable, however, to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney, since the options available to you depend greatly on individual circumstances that attorneys are particularly well-versed in handling.

Withholding visitation. When your ex-partner owes child support, you may not withhold visitation of the child. It is an understandable reaction, but it puts you in contempt of court for violating a court order. The best action to take is to work with the court to enforce your child support order with a qualified and committed child support enforcement attorney from Minella Law Group.

Child support enforcement defense. We represent both sides of collection and enforcement efforts and have proven experience to obtain the best possible outcome for your special circumstances. California will do anything legally possible to enforce payment. We regularly defend non-custodial parents in CSSD proceedings, which can include restoring your suspended or revoked license. We can request accountings and correct errors that may be present in your child support calculation. We will ensure that your child support payments are true and accurate and defend you to the fullest extent to reduce support to the appropriate amount.

We can assist with California child support order enforcements

If you are owed child support or are having difficulties paying child support due to changes in circumstances, get immediate legal help from a San Diego Child Support Attorney at Minella Law Group. We will work to secure your best interest in enforcing child support orders and ensure the stability of you and your family. Our Family Law Attorneys will support you and work to protect your personal, financial and family well-being through diligent investigation, careful analysis, and experienced advocacy.

For more information or to schedule an appointment call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.

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Kathy MinellaEnforcement and Collection of Child Support