What To Do If Your Ex Owes You Child Support?

Whether the parents of a child maintain a relationship or not, they are legally required to provide for their child. Child support is the financial obligation that a non-custodial parent has to his or her child's custodial parent, to be used solely for the care of the child. The non-custodial parent is required to make regular payments, regardless of where they live.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than half of all custodial parents receive the full amount of child support that they are owed. All states operate a child support enforcement program to compel those payments and to collect any money that is past due. Services offered in these programs include locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing and modifying support orders, collecting support payments and enforcing orders, and referring noncustodial parents to employment services. Although child support can be paid voluntarily, a court-ordered financial agreement works to ensure that the noncustodial parent will pay the required amount.

California's Department of Child Support Services' (DCSS) Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has numerous measures of enforcement and collection of funds:

A wage assignment is typically imposed to collect regular and past-due payments directly from the parent's paycheck. The money is transferred directly to the custodial parent.
Penalties are in place to deter non-custodial from skipping payments. Fines and possible imprisonment may be imposed by the court.
Past-due child support may be collected from federal and state tax returns, state or property tax credits and lottery winnings.
Revocation and possible denial of applications for state-issued business, professional and drivers licenses for non-custodial parents whose payments are past due.
Workers compensation may be collected to pay child support.

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 states that if a parent evades his or her child support obligation beyond the maximum amount allowed by the law for a period of more than two years, he or she is in violation of the law. According to the act, the offending parent must have had the ability to pay, willfully failed to pay and traveled to a different state with the intent to evade payment of a child support obligation in order to be found guilty. A parent found in violation could be jailed for up to six months in federal prison and receive a fine.

The state of California has set up an interest amount of 10% per year from any missed or delayed payments. Interest begins at the date the installment is due, or date of entry of judgment. California has no statute of limitations, meaning that regardless of how much time has elapsed, the custodial parent is entitled to the full payment of money that he or she is owed.

Tara Yelman is a San Diego Family Lawyer originally from New York. She began practicing law in 1995 after graduating California Western School of Law and in 2005 She became a San Diego County family law settlement judge. She is currently the Managing partner of Yelman & Associates.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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