Tips for dealing with a deadbeat parent in California

Ideally, every parent who has a child support order in California would faithfully keep up with their payments. This would ensure that the children will feel minimal financial pain due to their parents’ divorce.

Of course, as many parents know, in real life many parents fall behind on their child support. The tabs can grow quite large. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement says that there were a total of $108 billion in unpaid child support throughout the U.S. in 2009. Besides being frustrating to the custodial parent, not getting the necessary support can put a serious strain on the household’s finances.

Much of the time, a noncustodial parent can be put in jail for failing to pay child support. If this is not an option, or something the custodial parent would rather not have happen, there are a few options to encourage the return of the payments, or at least reduce the impact of the deadbeat parent.

It may be tempting to take away child custody or visitation time as punishment for unpaid support. But experts say that doing so could backfire. They say that you could get into legal trouble, and could cause the deadbeat parent to drift further out of the kids’ lives. So, try to keep support and custody issues separate.

If the noncustodial parent is not making the payments, it could be that he or she believes he or she cannot afford them at the moment. Suggest that he or she try to get the support reduced in court. Obviously, the support was set at the original level for a reason, but something is better than nothing.

Finally, you may have to set the household budget as if you will not get child support. No, it is not fair, but it may be necessary to live on reduced finances, at least for a while.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, “What to Do When Your Ex Won’t (or Can’t) Pay Child Support,” Geoff Williams, Nov. 20, 2013