Many California parents depend on child support to help meet their child’s needs. Although both parents have a duty to provide support for their child, the parent with primary physical custody usually receives child support payments.
The purpose of child support
Child support is meant to help a parent cover a child’s basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and educational and medical expenses. The amount of child support ordered depends on various factors, including the incomes and expenses of both parents.
Unfortunately, sometimes a parent stops paying child support, leaving the other parent without much needed financial assistance for supporting their child.
If the parent paying child support is employed, the child support payments can be automatically deducted from their paychecks. However, if they are not employed, they are required to make payments themselves.
There are many reasons why a parent may fall behind on child support payments. However, California imposes serious penalties for failure to pay child support.
Filing a contempt petition
When you are not receiving your child support, you can file a contempt petition with the court and ask for a contempt order to be issued. You must provide proof of missed payments, which you can get through the child support agency.
A contempt order for not paying child support does more than simply order the non-paying parent to pay. There are much more serious penalties.
The non-paying parent can have liens placed on their property or bank accounts. Their tax refunds may also be intercepted and used to cover any outstanding child support obligations.
Additionally, non-paying parents face driver’s license suspension and revocation of any professional or occupational licenses.
These penalties can sometimes do more harm than good. Taking away a driver’s license can prevent a parent from having a way to get to and from work, causing them to lose their job or miss out on wages that could otherwise be used to catch up on child support.
The same is true for parents who have professional or occupational licenses revoked. Without these, they cannot continue in their chosen careers, and their amount of overdue child support is likely to keep growing.
A contempt order could order a parent to serve up to 1 year in jail and/or pay additional files.
Possible criminal penalties
In some cases, failure to pay child support could become a criminal action. This typically only happens when the non-paying parent owes an extraordinary amount of back support and is extremely behind. Penalties for a criminal action also include jail time and fines.
It is best to act quickly when you are not receiving your court ordered child support. Waiting until missed payments pile up can result in major penalties for the non-paying parent, but the severity of the penalties could potentially reduce your chances of seeing the money.
When you fail to receive a payment, an attorney experienced with California child support cases can help you explore your options.