In California, both parents are expected to financially support their children until they reach the age of 18 or until they graduate high school, whichever comes later. If a parent falls behind on child support, he or she will have to pay 10 percent interest on the balance in addition to what he or she owes. Since interest charges are required by law, judges do not have the authority to stop them.
If you fall behind on you rchild support payments, it’s important to be aware that the local child support agency has a number of tools in its toolbox to collect the arrearages from you. For instance, your wages can be garnished for an amount that is above and beyond your regular monthly child support payment. But that’s only the beginning.
Consequences of Not Paying Child Support
When a parent falls too far behind on their child support payments, they face serious consequences, especially if the court finds that the parent has the ability to pay the child support, but he or she intentionally did not pay it.
If the court finds the parent to be in “contempt of court,” he or she can be fined and even jailed. This is usually a last-ditch effort and is only used when all other attempts to collect support have failed. If you fall behind on your child support, the following can occur:
- Your driver license can be suspended.
- Tax refunds, SSDI benefits, workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits, or lottery winnings can be taken.
- The funds in your bank accounts can be seized.
- Liens can be placed on any real estate you own.
- Your professional licenses can be suspended.
- If you owe more than $2,500, your U.S. passport can be denied.
- The delinquency will be reported on your credit report.
If you’re ever in the situation where you cannot afford your child support payments; for example, because of a job loss, a disability, an illness or an injury, it’s essential that you go back to court and ask for a downward modification.
Since child support is not retroactive, it’s important that you return to court as soon as you have a significant and long-term change in your financial circumstances.
Related: Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody?
For assistance with a child support matter in Newport Beach, contact Burch Shepard Family Law Group today for a free case evaluation.