Is Child Support Mandatory in California?

Is Child Support Mandatory in California?

In situations where parents are separated or divorced, caring for a child remains a shared responsibility. Child support is an expected charge incurred by these separations and is legally determined to help provide the best scenario for the child or children involved. The enforceability of these statutes varies from case to case and can change as your situation develops. Understanding the factors that go into determining child support, along with its enforceability, is crucial for thoroughly understanding your situation.

What Determines Child Support?

Typically the result of a divorce, child support is determined by evaluating your particular custody arrangement alongside factors like net income, time spent with your child, and the number of children you share with an ex-spouse. The custodial parent of the child, or the parent given majority custody in a shared custody scenario, is to collect child support from the non-custodial parent, regardless of income. The purpose of child support payments is to make up for the lack of physical time spent with a child, and this is factored into any final child support payment plans.

Penalties for Refusing to Pay Child Support

Referred to as delinquent parenting, if a parent outwardly refuses to pay child support for their child, in opposition to a court order, they can be legally held accountable for their actions. If you file a complaint regarding a delinquent parent, the court will hold a hearing on your behalf to determine the consequences of refusing child support for that parent, requiring them to either prove why they cannot make their scheduled payments or explain their open refusal to do so. A judge may impose a range of punishments if the court determines that the non-paying parent did so voluntarily, which can range in longevity and severity, including:

  • A judge may fine a delinquent parent up to $1,000 and jail them for up to five days for not paying child support. However, fines are typically a last resort, and the money collected from these fines is typically used as a form of back payment.
  • Penalties for not paying child support can include community service for a parent who has not paid their monthly payments. For a first or second offense, up to 120 hours can be ordered; for a third offense, up to 240 hours.
  • A non-paying parent may be required to cover the custodial parent’s legal costs and additional expenses for enforcing the child support order.
  • A judge can order the sale of a delinquent parent’s assets to cover child support.
  • A judge can order that a lien be imposed on property owned by a delinquent parent.
  • The court can order the deduction of child support from the salary of a non-paying parent.
  • A judge can order that a delinquent parent’s bank accounts be garnished to pay back child support.
  • The courts can order that other sources of income for a delinquent parent be used to pay back any unpaid child support. These can include a pension plan, veteran’s disability benefits, Social Security disability benefits, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and even lottery winnings.

This may seem intimidating to some parents. However, the court will fully evaluate the case before making any final decisions. If the delinquent parent is simply unable to afford the current child support payments, or if they lost their job and now have a lower income, they will not be held in contempt and their new monthly support plan will be determined. To reach this verdict, the delinquent parent must have thorough documentation proving that they are unable to pay these fees. They will be required to provide a list of all their benefits and assets for review.


Q: Can Parents Agree to No Child Support in California?

A: Like adults, children still hold a specific set of rights that cannot be overruled by their parents’ authority. Parents are not legally allowed to withhold child support, no matter if one or both parents decide to do so, if instructed to make these payments by the court. Parents cannot take away a child’s constitutional right to care and support, especially in situations where these children are reliant on one custodial parent to meet those needs.

Q: Does California Enforce Child Support?

A: A child is legally entitled to child support payments, despite requests or objections from the parents, if the court finds it to be necessary. However, these payments do have an expiration date. Most of the time, the court will only enforce child support, family support, and spousal support orders up until the child reaches the age of majority (AOM) or legally becomes an adult. In California, the AOM is eighteen (18).

Q: Is It a Crime Not to Pay Child Support in California?

A: Refusing to pay any court-ordered payments can result in legal consequences, especially for child support payments. The person who has been ordered to pay support can be ruled in contempt of court if the court determines that they have the means to pay their monthly payments but are purposely refusing to do so. The person who is not paying child support may face jail time if they are found to be in contempt of court.

Q: Is Child Support Mandatory?

A: Child support payments, if determined to be necessary by the court, are mandatory. California’s child support process relies on income measurements of both parents involved in a custody arrangement along with their combined incomes. Overall, the purpose of child support payments is to monetarily benefit the child in question. The court must take into account the welfare of the child when determining these rates.

How to Approach Child Support Concerns

Figuring out your child’s child support situation, especially if you are relying on these payments, is crucial for ensuring the welfare of your child. Child support payments may be negotiated, reevaluated, or stopped based on outlying circumstances. However, seeking legal help with any of these issues is your best option for accurate, dependable results. Khalaf Law Group can provide the legal support you need to properly evaluate your case, advocate for your position, and ensure that you have fair representation during these hearings. For more information about our family law services, visit our website and contact us today.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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