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What To Do About Back Child Support

Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you must react quickly when payments fall behind schedule.

Back Child SupportWhen parents live apart, one parent is often required to pay support to the other to ensure that all the child’s needs can be met. Unfortunately, many parents fall behind on their obligations. In fact, right now there is $7.95 billion in back child support owed by parents in California. In this blog we will cover steps that parents receiving and parents paying support can take to get back on track.

If You Are Receiving Child Support

If you are receiving child support, your co-parent missing even one payment has the potential to create serious problems for you and your child. The first thing to do is figure out whether your co-parent is already having their wages garnished. If the Local Child Support Agency is involved in your case, wage garnishment is pretty much automatic. But if you came to your own child support arrangement, you are probably relying on the other parent to voluntarily make the payments. In this case, filing paperwork to initiate wage garnishment is an excellent way to ensure timely, regular support payments in the future.

If your co-parent is unemployed, obviously wage garnishment won’t work. You can seek other types of court actions to get the support you deserve. For example, you can ask the court to issue:

  • Property liens
  • Income tax refund intercepts
  • Unemployment or disability benefit intercepts

Depending on your own financial circumstances, you may also consider turning to CalWORKS for support. This government entity will pay the support and your spouse then will owe the government for that support.

If You Are Paying Child Support

If you are the one paying child support, falling behind can expose you to serious consequences. You might lose your drivers license and passport, as well as any state-issued professional licenses. You may even get sent to jail if a judge determines that you have the means to pay support but are deliberately and willfully withholding it.

If you find yourself unable to keep up with your child support payments, the first thing to do is reach out to your Local Child Support Agency and/or your co-parent and see if you can work out a temporary payment plan to help you get back on track.

Another important step to consider is seeking a modification of your child support agreement. This might be appropriate if you have lost your job or gotten demoted. Modifying the agreement can potentially lower your payments permanently.


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