There are ways for California State and Federal family laws to enforce child support payments. There are strict penalties for parents who do not adhere to court orders, including wage garnishments or even freezing the delinquent parent’s bank accounts.
Child support enforcement agencies cannot act unless the parent receiving support reports that the paying parent is behind on their payments. However, the accumulation of child support payments does not stop, even if there is no report. This fact has become apparent in one California family case.
50-years’ worth of back payments
In March, NBC News reported that Toni Anderson recovered $150,000 in back child support payments after 50 years. During those five decades, she raised her daughter on her own, working multiple jobs and using food stamps to support her.
When she and her ex-husband divorced, they had a court order for him to pay child support, but he did not make any child support payments over the years. Even so, Child Support Services in San Diego quickly located Anderson’s ex-husband when she brought in her court order from 1970 to collect those back payments.
Are back payments a growing issue?
Anderson’s daughter stated in the article that many other families across the nation have reached out to hers. These families say that they experience the same problem Anderson did, raising a child without support payments that help cover:
- A child’s basic needs
- Education and activity expenses
- Medical or childcare needs
There are various laws and agencies dedicated to enforcing child support payments. So, how is this issue so common?
It is possible that parents like Anderson do not report the fact that they are not receiving support payments. Many delinquent parents may even refuse to make payments for various reasons. Child support debts can also increase if the paying parent is in jail.
However, there is no single answer to this question. Every family’s circumstances are different.
Child support debts will not disappear
It is difficult to know why so many families are not receiving their court-ordered child support payments. However, Anderson’s situation demonstrates one thing for sure. Child support payments will not go away, even if the supporting parent does not pay—or even if they did not know they had to pay, like in Anderson’s ex-husband’s case.
Modifications to child support payments are always an option. If a non-custodial parent loses their job or cannot make the full support payment, they can petition California family courts for a modification to the original agreement.