Child support arrears occur when a parent is ordered by the court to pay child support and that parent does not pay it in full or only pays a part. With few exceptions, a parent is obligated to pay child support until their child reaches the age of 18.
The term “arrears” is a legal term that refers to a debt or payment that is overdue. Most child support payments are due the first of every month. The payor has 30 days to pay the child support before it is considered to be in arrears. If you are experiencing difficulty in receiving child support from the other parent, a California child support attorney can provide you with legal assistance to collect on the arrears.
The Child Support Obligation
The court considers child support a serious financial obligation. It is legally binding and cannot be avoided, even if the other parent files for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will not eliminate the obligation to pay. A parent who is ordered to pay child support is expected to pay child support on time, every month.
The other parent may unexpectedly stop child support for a variety of reasons, but they cannot legally do so without the court’s permission. If the other parent has stopped paying child support, you have the right to petition the court for arrears and reimbursement for legal costs.
A child depends on both parents providing financial care. Under California Penal Code section 270 a parent may be charged with a misdemeanor if they willfully fail to provide necessary care for their child. In addition, a parent who owes child support but has the ability to pay you may be held in contempt of court, and as a result may be fined or even sentenced to jail time.
Legal Remedies for Child Support Arrears
According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010 a parent who owes child support arrears is required to not only regularly pay the amount of money you owe in support, but also a 10% interest per year on child support arrears.
Additionally, under California Family Code 4722, a 6% to 72% penalty will be added to delinquent amounts on arrears older than 30 days. If the other parent fails to pay child support, they are not being responsible and face the possibility of legal consequences:
- Having their wages intercepted by the government to satisfy arrears.
- Be convicted of a misdemeanor charge that may include penalties and jail time.
- Revocation of a driver’s license, passport or a state professional license.
- Credit reporting agencies will report delinquent payment.
- Lien against any property they own or have an interest in.
- Late fees or interest as a penalty for not paying support on time.
Child support arrears has a negative impact on your child’s life. It is important to seek legal counsel to ensure that the other parent pays the child support and does not accrue excessive arrears. Unlike child support obligations, payments for child support arrears only terminate after the entire amount is paid. This means that other parent is obligated to pay child support arrears even after the child turns 18 years old. The other parent cannot ask for arrears to be waived as the court has no authority to change or reduce the amount owed in child support arrears. The exception to that is if both parents agree to a reduction of arrears.
If you are facing a situation with child support arrears, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. Addressing this issue in family court is the best way to get child support payments back on track and collect on any outstanding arrears.