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How do I enforce a child support order in California?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Child Custody

If you are divorced or separated from your ex and you have children, one of the first issues that needs to be addressed is the issue of child support. Generally, if one parent is named primary custodian of the child and is responsible for the day-to-day care of the child, the other parent without primary custody will pay child support to the child’s primary custodian to help pay for expenses relating to the care of the child.

This support may cover the child’s:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Clothing
  • Education and extracurricular activities
  • Housing
  • College expenses
  • Medical care

Some parents fall behind on payments or flat-out refuse to pay to support their children financially. If your ex is failing to pay child support, there are ways to enforce the order to make sure they pay what they owe.

Enforcing a child support order

Even if you and your ex have worked out the details on your own, child support generally is not legally enforceable unless a judge has signed off on your written agreement and turned it into an order.

Once an order is implemented, there are steps to ensure that the child support order is followed. The first step is to contact a child support enforcement agency for assistance. If that does not work, you may be able to file a motion for contempt within three years from the date of a delinquent payment.

After the hearing, the court may decide to hold the non-paying parent in contempt, which may result in civil and criminal penalties such as fines, driver’s license suspension, and jail time, as well as wage garnishment.

Parents, whether together or separated, have a responsibility to provide for their children in every way possible. For assistance with enforcing an order, consider contacting the Child Support Service Department and a family law attorney.