Child Support Enforcement in California. When a judge officially finalizes your divorce—approving any settlement agreements, issuing orders for child support or spousal support, and legally dissolving your marriage—you may feel a sense of relief that your legal battles are over. Unfortunately, too many parents will find themselves back in court to address issues that arise regarding their agreements. One issue in particular that leads people back into the courtroom is child support enforcement.
Child support orders are based on specific formulas that take into consideration the respective incomes and expenses of both parents, as well as the basic needs of any children in question. For this reason, the majority of child support determinations in California are considered to be fair and to reflect the responsibilities of both parents to financially support their children. However, simply because a court issues an order—and even if that order is fair—does not mean that the parent ordered to pay child support is going to comply with the court order.
Because most parents rely on child support payments to cover the major expenses of raising one or more children, it can have a serious effect on your living standards if the other parent falls behind on payments. For this reason, many parents seek to legally enforce child support orders.
Methods of Child Support Enforcement
California family courts and the state Department of Child Support Services understand the importance of paying child support as ordered, so there are several different methods of enforcement. These include the following:
- Having the court hold the parent in contempt;
- Fines and sanctions for failing to comply;
- Possible criminal charges;
- Garnishment of wages, benefit checks, or bank accounts;
- Liens placed on property;
- Suspension of driver’s license.
An attorney can advise you of the best method of child support enforcement in your particular situation.
Ways Not to Try to Enforce Child Support
No matter how far behind a parent is on child support payments, you should not take the matter into your own hands. For example, many people may feel tempted to refuse visitation rights to a parent who is not up to date on child support. This is not allowed, however, as it will go against any visitation order issued by the court.
Additionally, you cannot enforce child support payments that were not officially established by the family courts. For instance, if a spouse agreed to pay you $300 per month to contribute to child support but you never took the matter in front of the family court, you cannot enforce the continued payment of that amount. First, you must establish court-ordered child support before you can enforce it.
Contact a Santa Rosa Child Support Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today
If you need assistance enforcing a child support order in Sonoma County, or with any other type of family law matter in Sonoma County, Lake County or Mendocino County, your first call should be to an experienced family lawyer at Beck Law P.C. We are committed to helping individuals and their children receive the support they deserve. If you are facing a family law case, call our office for help today.