If you are a parent who is owed child support in California, it can be devastating when your ex-partner fails to pay. Regrettably, non-payment of child support happens far too often and can leave families struggling to make ends meet.
Fortunately, there is a way to enforce a child support order if this happens to you. In this blog post, our child support lawyer team shares what you can do if your ex-partner fails to pay child support.
Child Support Order
Collecting any owed child support may be more difficult if a judge never issued a child support order. Oral or written agreements that a judge has not approved are not legally binding. You can, however, take legal action to collect any child support owed to you if your child support agreement was approved in court.
Filing a Motion for Contempt for Non-Payment of Support
A court order holding the non-paying parent in contempt for non-payment of support is the primary means of enforcing a child support order. You must file a written Motion for Contempt for Non-Payment of Support within three years from the date the payment was due. One of our Seabrook Law Offices child support lawyers can assist you with filing this Motion.
Once you file your Motion for Contempt, the Court will hold a hearing. If the judge determines the non-paying parent willfully disobeyed the child support order, the non-paying parent will be held in contempt of court and may face civil or criminal penalties.
Common Enforcement Options in California
If the Court finds that your ex-partner owes back child support, it may order one or more of the following enforcement options:
- Garnish wages: The Court may order your ex’s employer to withhold a portion of their wages and send it directly to you.
- Suspend licenses: The Court may suspend your ex’s professional license or hunting/fishing license until they pay what they owe.
- Passport denial: If your ex falls behind on their payments by a certain amount, the U.S. State Department may deny their passport renewal application.
- Property liens: The Court may place a lien on your ex’s property, preventing them from selling or refinancing it until they satisfy their outstanding child support debt.
- Earning withholding orders: An earnings withholding order allows the government to intercept federal and state tax refunds and any other payments owed to your ex-spouse (e.g., lottery winnings).
- Legal fees: The Court can order your ex to pay your legal fees going back to your first attempt to collect back payments.
- Sale of property: The Court may order the sale of your ex’s property to make back payments.
- Jail time: Being in contempt of court could mean jail time for your ex-partner.
These are just a few penalties that a California court can impose. However, there are potential federal penalties based on how much money is owed and whether the non-paying party intentionally attempted to avoid making payments. Federal cases carry the harshest penalties, but state courts cannot impose them.
Other Penalties for Non-Payment of Child Support
A parent who is 30 days or more behind on child support payments may face problems with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which may refuse to issue or renew their driver’s license. They can get a temporary license for 150 days to catch up, but if their payments are still not up to date, the DMV can refuse to reissue or renew their full driver’s license.
The Department of Child Support Services also monitors and reports delinquent parents to national credit reporting agencies, which could lead to a poor credit rating.
What Happens If My Ex Moved Out of State?
Two laws require states to enforce the child support orders of other states and provide regulations for doing so. The Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act is a federal statute with three major provisions:
- Child support orders entered into in other states must be recognized by all states.
- If another state has a recognized child support order in the same case, the state cannot enter a new child support order.
- Child support orders entered into in another state must be enforced by state authorities.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is the second applicable law and has been adopted by all states. Child support orders can still be enforced due to these two acts, even if the parent subject to the order moves out of state. If your ex-partner has relocated out of state and has failed to pay their court-ordered child support, your child support lawyer can advise you on what to do next.
Contact Seabrook Law Offices If Your Ex-Partner Has Stopped Paying Child Support
If your ex-partner isn’t paying their court-ordered child support, it can be challenging to know what to do next, especially when there’s a time limit for taking legal action. Before you search online for “child support lawyers near me,” consider our experienced legal team at Seabrook Law Offices. By taking legal action and working with an experienced family lawyer, you can enforce a child support order and get the money you need to provide for your child’s wellbeing.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.