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What can be done in California to collect unpaid child support?

When a California couple has a child, but are no longer in a relationship with one another, one parent will likely be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. For many, this is not an issue. Sometimes, however, the paying parent does not pay what is owed in full or sometimes does not pay any of what is owed at all. Custodial parents who are unsure of their alternatives in such a circumstance should know that there is certain recourse to get the payments.

The Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) and Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will take steps to recover late or unpaid child support. For example, the failure to pay child support can be reported to credit reporting agencies. When trying to renew a passport, those who owe at least $2,500 in past-due child support will not be able to renew it. Those who own property can have a lien placed on that property if they owe child support; if that property is sold, the lien amount will go toward paying the child support.

A driver's license, occupational license, sporting license or professional license can be subject to suspension or revocation because of past-due child support. The DCSS can levy the person's bank accounts, retirement accounts or other financial holdings. If there are tax refunds due, the Internal Revenue Service can intercept it. People who are getting disability or unemployment can have those benefits intercepted. When a worker is injured and getting workers' compensation, the benefits can be intercepted for child support. A lucky winner of the lottery can have those payments taken to pay for child support. As a last resort, the DCSS may try to have the supporting parent cited for contempt when that person can pay the child support but refuses to do so.

Child support is necessary to properly care for the child's needs. When child support is not paid, there are ways for it to be taken using a variety of methods. In addition to these methods, the paying parent might have issues that make a child support modification possible. In addition, there could be ways to for the parents to come to a different agreement out-of-court. For both the supporting parent and the custodial parent, an attorney experienced in child support, divorce and all other family law issues can help.

Source: childsup.ca.gov, "Child Support Handbook -- Paying court-ordered child support is your responsibility, pages 27-28," accessed Jan. 29, 2018

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