Child Support - Setting and Collecting Arrears / by Cassandra Hearn

At the end of a divorce involving children, a parentage, or a child custody action, a trial court will enter an order that includes a provision for the payment of child support. Child support is based on a specific formula, and is calculated using a special calculator called the Dissomaster. Following a divorce or custody decision, it is common for change to happen for one or both parties. These changes could include job loss, job change, or relocation. In some cases, these unfortunate events could lead to the paying parent falling behind in his or her child support obligation.

There are a couple of different avenues available to a parent who is supposed to be receiving child support. One option is to contact the California Department of Child Support Services[CH1] . This governmental agency can help a custodial parent establish an order for past-due child support. These services are usually available at no cost. Another option is to elect to hire your own attorney to pursue an order for child support arrears. Although this will not be free, your own attorney will be better able to tailor make your case, which is especially important when dealing with a non-custodial parent who is intentionally trying to get out of paying child support. Your attorney can file a request with the court to determine the amount of child support arrears that is owed by the non-custodial parent. You will need to collect your evidence about how many payments the other party has missed, and have a definite amount of how much he or she is behind. The court will then enter a court order setting a particular amount of arrearages that is owed by the other parent, and may set interest on the amount that is past due.

In many cases, the court's order setting arrears will also set a schedule by which the non-custodial parent makes payments on the arrearages. This amount will be owed in addition to the regular monthly child support amount. An effective tool to make sure these amounts are paid is to request that the support and the arrearage both be paid by "wage assignment", which means that the amount will be automatically deduced from the paying parent's wages. The state office has other enforcement tools available, including garnishing state and federal income tax returns to collect on the arrearages. Filing a lien against real property owned by the non-custodial parent can be effective, although it usually requires patience. Such a lien will mean that when the property is sold, the child support amount will be paid back before the seller receives any of the profits. This can be a good tool when there is an especially large back support obligation, but may not be worth the trouble for only a few thousand dollars.

We have extensive experience in helping our clients in cases involving child support arrearages. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation to talk about solutions for the child support arrearages in your case

 [CH1]Link to DCSS: