Divorce With Respect

What happens if you fall behind in child support in California?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2022 | Child Support |

Every parent has a legal and moral duty to care and provide for their child until they attain the age of self-dependence. And most parents treat this responsibility with the seriousness it deserves regardless of whether they are married, separated or divorced. 

When a couple that shares a child divorces, the family court will often order the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. These payments are meant to cover the child’s daily needs such as food, shelter, clothing, medical, education and other expenses. A child support order is binding and the payments must be a specific amount and made on specific dates. 

Failure to pay child support can lead to a conviction

You can be held in contempt of court and a civil warrant issued against you if you disregard the directive to pay child support. This happens when the custodial parent files a contempt charge and the consequences can include fines and prison time. 

If state or federal prosecutors become involved in your child support case, then a criminal warrant may be taken out against you. Usually, this happens when you owe a significant amount in unpaid child support and the penalties may include fines and jail time. 

Other child support enforcement options in California include:

  • Mandatory wage garnishment – the 1988 Family Support Act allows the court to deduct owed child support payments from your paycheck.
  • Lien on your property – a property lien can be put on your home, bank account or retirement funds. 
  • Suspension of your driver’s license – the California DMV can withdraw your driver’s license due to owed child support. Your boating and hunting licenses too may be suspended. 

Child support is an important component of the divorce or separation process. Find out how you can modify an existing child support order if you are justifiably unable to keep up with the current order.