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Child support gains added attention during August in California

August is Child Support Awareness Month in the state of California. Authorities and residents alike are taking time to contemplate the child support system and consider its benefits as well as areas for improvement.

The child support agencies in the state, 51 in all, work tirelessly throughout the year in order to both collect and distribute much-needed child support to families. During this past federal fiscal year, the agencies collected over $2 billion in child support. This leaves some $350,000 in delinquent payments at this time. One issue to be addressed by the agencies is how best to collect these outstanding amounts.

For one county, the answer has been to create a "Contempt Team" to focus on obtaining the owed amounts as fast as possible. Specifically, the Contempt Team will attempt to work with a non-paying parent in order to try to find a way to get payment to the children. If this team effort approach is not successful, the next step is to file civil contempt charges in court. Such charges can result in fines, levies and litigation. If a non-paying parent is also unwilling to work with the court, jail time could result.

Child custody and support issues are emotionally loaded. When failure to pay child support, court and criminal charges come into play, the scenario unfolds into something even more complicated. It is important in these situations to be aware of one's legal rights, whether one is the recipient or the payer of child support. A legal professional can often help parties in a child support dispute work towards a fair and equitable solution for all parties involved.

Source: Sierra Star, "August is child support awareness month in California," Brian Wilkinson, Aug. 6, 2013

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