Collecting back child support can be a complex and lengthy process since each situation is unique. This article gives you a 30,000 foot view on the rights you have to collect child support, resources available to help you do it, and touches on common trouble spots to avoid.
In order for you to claim child support, you must first officially file and receive a court order establishing child support. To get this process started, you can use a number of agencies such as your county's Family Law Facilitator, your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA), the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). There is a lot of information out there in regards to claiming spousal support but unique situations when dealing with claiming spousal support are best answered by your Kern County Family Law Attorneys. Experienced Bakersfield divorce lawyers will answer your questions on what you can do if your ex doesn’t pay child support.
Biological parents. If you are the biological parent, you owe the child support. It doesn't matter if you were never married, don't show up on the birth certificate, never knew you had a child, if it was a one night stand, etc. The biological parent is responsible for child support.
Child support, spousal support, custody, and visitation rights are all treated as separate situations. If your ex does not pay child support, it does not mean your ex is not allowed to visit your child. No one "buys" visitation rights with child support.
You cannot use your ex’s new spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend to collect child support. Family Code 4057.5(a) doesn’t allow you to do this except in very rare cases of extreme hardship on the children. You’ll want to get a competent attorney to help you here.
How much back child support can I collect, example #1? In California, the clock starts when you file and the court issues support orders. Example, you never filed for child support while your child was a minor. Your child is currently 23 years old. You now want to claim child support for the past. You may not get it because it's too late to file.
How much back child support can I collect, example #2? You filed for child support when your child was 8 years old, your child is now 23 years old. Your spouse never paid one cent of child support. Your spouse is still on the hook to pay back all the child support from age 8 to age 18 (the past ten years). Once child support is due, it's owed until paid, even after the child becomes an adult.
When do child support obligations end? It ends when your ex files a new order stating your child turned 18 years old and graduated high school and not living with a parent. Or because your child is 19 years old, got married, joined the military, is emancipated, or dies.
What happens if our child is a disabled adult child? If your child cannot support him or herself, the court may order both parents to continue support even past age 19.
In California, back child support owed (arrears) cannot be waived or changed by the Court, even if the parents agree to it for whatever reason. Once owed, it’s always owed.
However, a Modification of a California child support order can be filed due to a change in circumstances. Such as:
Parenting time changed,
Income from either parent changed,
A parent has new children from another relationship, or
The child's expenses (child care, medical or other health related costs, etc.) have changed.
This only affects child support moving forward. It does not modify any child support owed before the Modification has been filed.
By law, interest gets added to the balance and a judge cannot stop this from happening. These charges can add up quickly and would be taken out of your ex's paycheck.
Not paying child support has serious consequences especially if the court finds your ex has the ability to pay, but isn't.
In this situation, the judge can decide that your ex is "in contempt of court" and threaten jail time. However, this is only used when all other options have failed.
The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 states that district attorneys (D.A.s) or state's attorneys must help you collect child support. In any case, you’ll want to work with the court to enforce sanctions against your ex. And in California, you have the option of hiring a support enforcement agency to help you collect. Asking the help of an attorney early in the process is highly recommended. [link: http://azemikalaw.com/contact]
Once you get the proper help, some of the methods used to collect include:
Taking over tax refunds.
Garnishing Social Security benefits
Placing liens against or seizing property and real estate.
Suspending business or professional licenses.
Some states may revoke a driver's license.
In some cases, the federal government may refuse to issue a passport to your ex.
And as a last resort, the court may impose a jail term.
You'll still be able to enforce child support payment as above. Your ex cannot waive their obligations by moving to another state.
It maybe possible to enforce and collect child support if your ex lives in a Foreign Reciprocating Country and your state has an arrangement to enforce support judgments. But this is a complex area, so get the help of a competent attorney.
Your situation is unique. If you need action and advice that’s specific to Kern County and your real life situation contact our knowledgeable professionals at Azemika & Azemika Law, the premiere Bakersfield divorce lawyers.