When parents separate or become divorced, financial responsibilities for the support of their children are often ordered by the court. The funds allocated to be paid are not to financially support the other parent, but are funds that must go to support the child’s needs.  Unfortunately in some cases, the parent who is court ordered to pay child support may be unwilling to pay what is ordered. It is important to recognize that severe penalties can be implemented on a parent who refuses to pay court ordered child support. While some penalties can seem minor, most consequences can make a direct impact on that parent’s economic livelihood.

Civil and Criminal Penalties- When a parent who owes child support has overdue payments for various reasons, the parent who is owed the child support might take further court action against the non-paying parent. The incurred interest on past due child support can add up greatly. Other consequences can be fines. On extreme cases, warrants and even imprisonment can be a form of punishment. These consequences have the potential to affect a person’s life, even after the case has been closed. If an individual has failed to pay child support and a criminal charge has been filed, this charge can remain in an individual’s criminal record. These criminal charges are often filed by the County District Attorney who has authority to impose these charges as a way of motivating people to stay current with their support orders.

Common Consequences- While the issuance of a warrant can be one of the most severe punishments, there are other penalties a parent could face when he or she fails to pay court ordered child support. One of the more common consequences for failing to pay child support is the revocation of that parent’s driver’s license. Professional licenses can also be either revoked or suspended, such as real estate licenses, medical licenses or other occupational licenses. The Department of Child Support Services and the County District Attorney easily shares information with other California agencies to suspend or revoke licenses.

Collection Methods- Wage garnishments are a common method for payment or repayment of child support. At times, the seizure of tax refunds is used to repay child support. The California Franchise Tax Board is another example of a governmental agency that assists in the collection of child support by way of intercepting money.

Child Support – When Facing Financial Difficulties

Failure to pay child support as ordered by the court due to financial difficulties can happen to anyone and without warning. After child support has been ordered, a parent ordered to make payments can be laid off from his or her work. He or she can potentially suffer a sudden medical condition, which can hinder his or her ability to work. If difficulties arise, it is important that the parent ordered to make child support payments notifies the court or Department of Child Support Services immediately. Not doing so will cause arrears to increase unnecessarily. The Department of Child Support Services and the courts have methods in place to adjust child support if you are eligible, but these modifications are not always retro-active. Being open, honest and timely in taking control of your case is always the best way to stay in good standing with regards to your child support.

Child Support Document Preparation – Modification or Termination

If you need to request a modification of child support, or maybe a termination for a child who is no longer a minor, a Legal Document Assistant can help. Legal Document Assistants in California are authorized to help prepare and file child support documents to initiate, modify and even terminate orders. If you are considering filing a child support action at the court consider talking to a legal documents assistant in California to see how they can help you.