According to California courts, if parents are no longer together, each party should be actively responsible for the financial upkeep of their child. In other words, if one parent provides the child with food, a home, school supplies, toys, and other necessities, the other parent should make child support payments to help support those costs. Most parents understand the necessity of such an arrangement, however, for whatever reason, some parents do not pay their child support.
If a parent balks on their payments, underpays, or fails to stay up-to-date, the other parent can pursue action to enforce those child support orders. Read on to find out how.
Understanding Child Support Laws
Child support is designed to ensure both parents take financial responsibility for their children so that they may provide them with their everyday necessities. Although child support is typically paid from one parent to the other, the money should go directly to the child to cover their medical care, education, living expenses, toys, and other necessary costs. While some parents make child support arrangements on their own, either verbally or via text or email, their informal arrangement will not be legally recognized until it is signed by a judge. If parents establish their child support arrangement in court, or if they present their agreed-upon arrangement before a judge for an official signature, their agreement becomes legally binding and is enforceable by court order.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
If you have a court-ordered child support agreement that your co-parent is not abiding by, you should consider enforcing those orders. In California, you can file a motion for contempt against your co-parent, which essentially means they have willingly disobeyed a court order by ignoring their child support responsibilities. If the parent is found in contempt, they could face serious consequences, including fines and even jail time.
To file the motion to enforce child support, you must go to court in the county where your child lives, or to the local DCSS office. The court will then hold a hearing to consider the case, and if the delinquent parent still refuses to pay child support, the judge can press them with fines, community service, or place a lien on their property. The judge might also order the delinquent parent to dissolve property, pull from pension plans, or harness money from a variety of other sources in order to pay the outstanding support.
It's important to note that California has a three-year statute of limitations for such matters. In other words, you can only take legal action for the support owed over the last three years. If a parent is late on child support payments for 5 years, for example, the statute limitations only allows you to pursue compensation for the last three years.
Let Our Firm Help You
Are you ready to take action to enforce your child support orders? Our team at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich can listen to your story, assess your situation, and create a legal plan to help enforce your court-ordered support agreement. We believe every child is entitled to the full support of both parents, and if you are paying for your child’s expenses alone, we want to help you obtain the support your child needs.
Call (951) 506-6654 today to get in touch with our attorneys at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich.