What happens when a parent fails to pay child support?

Paying child support is an obligation that must be followed. Even if a parent in California has a good reason for being unable to pay child support, that parent will still owe child support even when he or she seeks a child support modification. Therefore, it is a good idea to understand what penalties may come into effect if a parent does not meet his or her child support responsibilities.

A parent's area child support agency has the means to collect delinquent payments in various ways. For example, the agency can notify credit agencies that the parent has failed to meet his or her child support obligations, which could affect that parent's credit score. In addition, the paying parent may be denied a passport if that parent is $2,500 or more in arrears of his or her child support obligations. Also, the paying parent could have a lien placed on his or her home for failure to pay child support.

Furthermore, if a parent in California doesn't pay, he or she could be subject to license suspension. This includes not only driver's licenses, but also professional licenses used for a business or employment. Also, non-paying parents' tax refunds may also be intercepted. If a paying parent receives disability benefits or unemployment benefits, these can also be intercepted.

Finally, if a parent fails to pay child support per a court ordered agreement, the parent may be found in contempt of court. This means that the parent could face jail time. However, this is an extreme remedy that may come into play only if all other efforts to collect child support have been extinguished.

As this shows, a parent's area child support agency has a number of tools at their disposal to collect unpaid child support. It is important for full payments to be made on time for the best interests of the child. Parents in California who are having difficulty meeting their child support obligations may want to petition the court for a child support modification.