What Happens When Child Support is Not Paid?

In California, there are repercussions when a parent fails to pay court-ordered child support. The following is a discussion of how California courts enforce child support orders. For additional information regarding your child support order, contact an experienced California family law attorney in your area.

Establishing a Stipulation and Order

A child support Stipulation and Order is a written formal order setting forth child support signed by a judge. Without a child support order signed by a judge, there is no legal requirement for a parent to pay child support. Parents can agree to their child support amount so long as a judge approves it, or a judge can set an amount for parents who cannot reach an agreement on their own.

Child support actions are filed in court:

  • Using the mandatory forms without the assistance of an attorney;
  • With a child support attorney who files the proper documents on a parent’s behalf; or
  • With the assistance of the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).

Motion for Contempt for Non-Payment of Support

The primary means for enforcing a child support order is through a court order holding the non-paying parent in contempt for non-payment of support. The parent seeking a contempt order must file a written Motion for Contempt for Non-Payment of Support within three years from the date the payment was due.

A contempt charge for non-payment of support carries both civil and criminal penalties, including:

  • A fine up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to five days in jail per count of contempt;
  • Community service up to 120 hours for a first or second contempt, and up to 240 hours for the third case of contempt;
  • Ordering a delinquent parent to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees and other costs associated with enforcing the child support order;
  • Requiring the delinquent parent’s property be sold to pay child support;
  • Ordering the possession of a delinquent parent’s real property;
  • A wage garnishment (payments are automatically withheld from the delinquent parent’s paychecks);
  • Garnishment from the delinquent parent’s bank accounts; and
  • Ordering that past-due child support is paid from another source, such as a pension plan, veteran’s disability benefits, community property owned by a delinquent parent’s spouse, unemployment compensation disability benefits, workers compensation, and lottery winnings.

The court can typically order any income received by the defendant to be used for child support. Even if a child ages out, child support arrears do not end. If a parent is behind on child support, the delinquent amount is owed until paid in full.

Additional Penalties for Delinquent Child Support Payments

There are additional penalties for failure to pay child support in California. One of these is the refusal to issue or renew a driver’s license for support that is more than thirty days late. When support is late by 120 days or more, California can revoke a driver’s license altogether.

Delinquent child support may also be reported to the credit bureaus and hurt a parent’s credit rating.

Contact an Experienced California Child Support Attorney Today

If you would like to learn more about the penalties for non-payment of child support in California, call the experienced child support attorneys at Moradi Saslaw. At Moradi Saslaw, we are dedicated to customizing creative strategies for meeting our clients’ family law needs.

Contact our office today for a confidential consultation to discuss how Moradi Saslaw’s child support attorneys can get you the results you need for your family.