After divorce or separation, non-custodial parents in California are usually ordered to pay child support. This support is generally meant to provide for a child's basic needs. However, it is possible to negotiate extras into a support order.
Unfortunately, for some parents, keeping up with their support obligations can prove to be a challenge. It is not uncommon to experience a change in circumstances after the awarding of a child support order. If you find yourself unable to make your child support payments, there may be something you can do about it before any enforcement options are used against you.
What is child support enforcement?
In California, as in all other states, when a non-custodial parent has orders to make child support payments and fails to do so, the custodial parent can take certain actions in an effort to collect. Some of these actions require court approval; however, some simply require administrative assistance. There are many enforcement remedies available to custodial parents. These include:
- The garnishment of wages
- Interception of taxes
- Suspension of professional and personal licenses
- The freezing of bank accounts
- Credit bureau reporting
If these or other enforcement options fail to produce desirable results, criminal charges may be filed. Those convicted for failure to pay child support may face jail time and hefty fines.
What can I do if I really cannot meet my support obligation?
Before the utilization of enforcement options, if you are struggling to meet your child support obligation, there is something you can do to help your situation. In California, it is possible for non-custodial parents to seek order modifications.
Who qualifies for an order modification?
Not everyone who asks for a support order modification will receive one. The awarding of modifications typically occur only if one can show a recent change in his or her financial circumstances.
An example of this would be: A 35-year-old father of three young children, with an income of $100,000 annually, is paying approximately $1,400 a month in child support as part of his divorce agreement. A few years later, this individual loses his job and takes a position with another company making less money.
This change in income level would qualify him for a child support order modification. In order to receive one, though, he will have to go to court to request the change and provide proof that he experienced a change in circumstances.
Take action as soon as possible
Achieving an adjustment to a child support order is not an easy task. However, taking the time to request one is far better than having to deal with the child enforcement options that the state of California allows.
Many parents struggle financially on occasion, making it difficult to meet their child support obligations. If this has happened to you, taking action sooner rather than later is in your best interest. An experienced family law attorney can assist you as you fight for a support order that works with your current economic situation.