What to Do When Child Support Is Not Being Paid?

What to Do When Child Support Is Not Being Paid?

Following a divorce or child custody case, both parents are expected to support their biological children. Financial support is often handled through child support, and the non-custodial parent has to abide by the court’s child support order. Failure to do so could result in the at-fault parent being found in contempt of court. Enforcing child support is not always easy. Many parents find themselves asking a similar question: What to do when child support is not being paid?

When Is Child Support Enforceable?

In order for you to compel the other parent to pay child support, there must be a valid court order in place. If both parents have not signed an order that is signed by a judge, there is no legal requirement for either parent to pay child support. The court must agree with both parties that the amount of child support is in the best interest of the child. Child support is only enforceable to biological children except in cases where a child has been formally adopted.

Court Remedies for Enforcing Child Support

Once there is a court order in place, you will have resources to enforce your child custody agreement. Your family law attorney can file a motion for contempt against the non-paying parent. Any willful violation of a court order can result in a finding of contempt that comes with the possibility of fines, jail time, and other penalties.

A judge will review the motion and evidence presented. If the judge finds that the non-paying parent violated a court order, they will be found guilty. Contempt carries criminal and civil penalties, meaning the at-fault parent may be confined to jail for a set period of time.

If the non-paying parent pays for the total amount of arrears, you can offer to withdraw the motion for contempt. Arrears are a term for money that is owed and was supposed to be paid at an earlier date. The prospect of facing serious penalties and jail time is often enough to motivate non-paying parents to pay for arrears in full.

Having an experienced family law attorney file the motion for contempt can ensure that you do not miss important filing deadlines. Failing to file within the statute of limitations can mean that you are not able to collect delinquent child support payments through a motion for contempt. If a significant period of time has passed, you may only be able to file contempt for delinquent payments that fall within the statute of limitations.

Contempt of Court Hearing

Once a hearing has been held, the judge may order a range of penalties that could include fines, jail time, community service, wage garnishment, or seizure and sale of personal or real property. It could also include orders that the child support be paid from a source other than a bank account, like a pension plan or lottery winnings.

The party that is found to be at fault is often required to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees as well. There are many ways that the court can explore to find ways to compel the non-paying parent to catch up on arrears. If the at-fault party is hiding assets and income, the courts have ways of finding those sources of money.

Many people think that arrears disappear when the child reaches 18 years of age, but this is not necessarily true. While the child support payments may disappear, arrears may still be enforceable. If you are seeking child support arrears and your child is about to turn 18, contact a family law attorney who can work to enforce the child support order for arrears, even after the child becomes a legal adult.

Although child support agreements can be modified, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney help you draft the terms of your child support agreement. Having clear language can make the agreement easily enforceable if the other parent decides to stop paying.


Q: How Far Behind in Child Support Can Someone Be Before They Go to Jail in CA?

A: Anyone who is behind in child support can be found in contempt of court in California and possibly face time in jail. There is no set limit for what qualifies for contempt, but most courts would not view one missed payment alone as grounds for contempt. In order to show that the non-paying parent intentionally and willfully violated the court order, some type of pattern usually must be shown.

Q: How Do I Report Unpaid Child Support in CA?

A: The Department of Child Support Services is the state agency that can provide you with information on how to collect child support. If the non-paying parent is behind in child support and you have an enforceable court order, you can work with a family law attorney to handle the matter before a judge in family court.

Q: How Far Behind in Child Support Can Someone Be Before a Warrant Is Issued in CA?

A: If someone is charged with a crime in California, a warrant is issued, and a law enforcement officer arrests that individual. During a contempt hearing, the order to be confined to jail usually happens with both parties present. If the judge orders the non-paying parent to go to jail, they either go immediately or are allowed to turn themselves in at a later date. There is no set amount for how far someone has to be before they are jailed for contempt.

Q: What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support in CA?

A: If you do not pay child support in California, you are violating a court order. If the custodial parent takes legal action, you may find yourself in contempt. The penalties for being found in contempt include fines, wage garnishment, jail time, and other punitive actions. Non-paying parents can be forced to pay arrears even after the child becomes an adult.

Schedule Your Child Support Consultation Today

Few people would say they enjoy paying child support, but the system is intended to ensure that children have the financial resources to live healthy, productive lives. If you wish to have your child support agreement amended or want to hold the non-paying parent accountable, Khalaf Law Group can help. Contact our office today so we can help resolve your child support issues.

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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