What Happens if I Can’t Make My Child Support Payments?

When parents in separate households share custody of a minor child, the parent with primary physical custody of the child will receive monetary payments from the other parent in the form of child support. Child support funds are awarded to the primary custodial parent to ensure the minor child is afforded the lifestyle they would have if their parents were in one household using their combined resources to provide for the minor. While the reason for child support payments is understandable, the payments can be a source of concern and conflict for some parents. One parent may feel they’re being punished, but nothing could be further from the truth.

What it Means if You’re Falling Behind on Child Support Payments in California

As our country continues to face economic challenges caused by high inflation and gas prices, child support payments can begin to feel burdensome and unaffordable. If you’ve experienced a change in your financial situation, it’s important to get ahead of the problem by contacting your attorney. Your lawyer can review your options and help you work within the system to ensure you don’t become delinquent. Once the court orders an individual to pay child support, it becomes illegal for the payor to refuse these payments. The only way for a lawful child support order to be changed is through the legal system via a modification or a termination. Additionally, falling behind on your child support payments is an expensive mistake. An automatic 10% interest charge is added to all overdue payments.

Consequences of Failing to Honor Child Support Commitment

If a parent refuses to make child support payments and they are in a financial position to do so, there could be serious consequences. That isn’t to say that the court is more lenient on parents without means. Any failure to adhere to a child support order is taken seriously by the court. The custodial parent expecting the child support payment can contact an attorney to have the court enforce the child support order. Enforcing a child support order can happen through a civil or criminal warrant.

When a parent fails to make required child support payments, one of the following warrants can be issued:

  • Civil Warrant: When an individual ignores a court order, they can be considered in contempt of court. In child support cases, the custodial parent can file an enforcement order to have the party in arrears be held in contempt of court. The court will not automatically start the process otherwise. A civil warrant can carry fines and imprisonment.
  • Criminal Warrant: Once the parent responsible for child support payments has fallen severely behind in their obligation, a state or federal prosecutor can issue a criminal warrant. A criminal warrant can be enforced throughout the country and can carry fines, imprisonment, or both.

Other possible consequences of failure to pay California child support include the following:

  • Garnishments Mandatory Withholding: According to the Family Support Act, child support payments can be withheld from the non-custodial party’s paycheck. If the parent is in severe arrears, the court can issue a wage garnishment for up to 65% of the individual’s disposable income directly from their payment.
  • Liens: The court system can place a lien on personal and real property owned by the party with an outstanding unpaid child support order. The lien can be placed on personal bank accounts, homes, and retirement accounts.
  • Tax Offset: If the non-custodial parent owes back child support payments, the court can issue an order to divert any tax refunds to the outstanding debt until it is paid in full.
  • Passport and License Revocation: Parents with outstanding unpaid child support could have their passports and driver’s licenses revoked until a plan is put in place to resume payments. Past due child support can also negatively impact immigration status for those with visas or green cards.

If you are struggling to make child support payments, don’t allow the problem to get out of your control. Contact our child support attorneys today. We may be able to request a modification of your child support order or make arrangements to get back on track.

If you have questions regarding your child support payments, do not hesitate to contact us today! Put more than six decades of combined legal experience on your side. Call Cianci Law, PC at (916) 797-1575 or send us a message online to get started today.

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