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San Jose Family & Divorce Lawyers / Blog / Child Support / 10 Things to Know About Failing to Pay Child Support in California

10 Things to Know About Failing to Pay Child Support in California

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Child support is vital in helping many families make ends meet for their kids when parents are separated. Having adequate parental support and financial resources protects children and opens doors to future opportunities. Ensuring children are financially supported is of utmost importance, but it can be challenging for parents to keep making payments when their life circumstances change.

1. What Determines How Much Child Support I Owe?

California uses a statewide uniform guideline formula to calculate child support. The formula considers both parents’ income, the number of children, and the time each parent spends with the children. This guideline aims to ensure consistency and fairness in determining child support amounts.

Retroactive Support

California also allows for retroactive child support, which means a parent may be required to pay child support for a period before the child support order was established. This provision can ensure that children receive support from when it was first needed.

High-Income Formula

California’s child support guidelines have a specific formula to calculate child support for high-income parents. It applies when the combined income of both parents exceeds the upper limit of the standard guideline calculation, ensuring that child support remains appropriate even for parents with substantial earnings.

2. What Legal Obligations Do Parents Have?

Parents have a legal duty to support their children financially, provide them with food, shelter, education, and healthcare, and generally keep them safe. Parents have this obligation regardless of their relationship status with each other or other individuals. This obligation continues until the child reaches the age of a legal adult or is emancipated. Both parents must fulfill their responsibilities diligently to ensure children are cared for.

3. Can Child Support Orders Be Modified?

In certain situations, a parent may face genuine financial difficulties that prevent them from making child support payments as ordered. Sometimes circumstances change, and a financial obligation like child support that was not an issue at one time may become difficult to manage when things are different in the future. In such cases, seeking a modification of the support order could be helpful. The court will consider evidence of the changed circumstances before making a decision.

4. Avoid Being in Contempt of Court

Failure to pay child support can result in being held in contempt of court. Contempt charges carry heavy penalties, including fines and potential jail time. Contacting a lawyer if you are in negative standing with the court is vital to address non-payment issues proactively and avoid such consequences.

5. How Do I Manage My Child Support Payments?

California offers online tools for child support payment and case management to help those who owe support payments stay organized and expand their access to services. Parents can make payments online, check payment status, and access important case information through the Child Support Self-Service Portal.

6. Seek Legal Assistance

Do you know all of your options for paying child support? Are you confused about why you owe what you owe? Navigating child support laws can be complex, especially during challenging financial times. Seeking legal assistance from an experienced family lawyer can help a parent understand their rights and work towards resolving child support issues effectively.

7. Consider The Impact on Children

While it is stressful for you to owe money, consider what your child and their parent who requires support are also going through. There are a lot of unexpected expenses when raising a child, and not having the support expected can be a severe hardship. Non-payment of child support can affect education, health, sense of safety, access to essential resources, and social and emotional well-being. Prioritizing child support ensures a stable, consistent environment for children to thrive.

8. Address Any Arrears

Arrears refer to the unpaid, overdue, or past-due payments that a person owes. When a parent falls behind on child support payments, the unpaid amount accumulates and becomes arrears. California charges interest on the unpaid amount if a parent falls behind on child support payments.

If arrears are left unresolved, they can have significant financial consequences for the parent who owes the support. Addressing these arrears promptly is crucial to prevent further negative consequences for your family and financial health.

9. Know When to Seek Mediation

If you and the parent of your child are struggling to agree on the fairness of the existing child support order, custody agreements, or other challenges, consider bringing in a professional to help settle things. Mediation can be a valuable tool in resolving child support disputes. It provides a structured and cooperative environment for parents to find mutually agreeable solutions and avoid escalating legal battles.

10. What are the Legal Consequences of Missing Child Support Payments?

There can be severe repercussions when a parent fails to pay child support in California. The Child Support Services Department can take various actions to enforce compliance, such as wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, placing liens on property, or even suspending driver’s licenses.

Argyris Mah, LLP Can Help You Manage Child Support Payments

Failing to pay child support in California can have severe consequences for parents and, most importantly, the children involved. An experienced attorney can help you understand the legal obligations and maintain communication with the relevant authorities, which are crucial steps in managing child support responsibilities.

Remember, prioritizing the well-being of your children and working towards an amicable resolution is always in everyone’s best interest. Schedule a consultation with Argyris Mah, LLP by calling 408-214-6366 today so we can help ensure your financial health and a brighter future for your children.

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