This is the next post in our series on the handling of child support issues in Orange County, California. Our last article discussed the need to establish paternity in order to receive child support. It is important to recognize that, until paternity has been established, that a father will have no rights or obligations (including the payment of support) in regards to the child. By getting into Court sooner, rather than later, a parent can obtain a Court order which will put a payment structure in place. In this article we will be addressing a topic which comes up all too often – how the Family Courts deal with individuals who do not pay their child support. If you find yourself in such a situation then it is crucial that you contact an attorney immediately.
Orange County parents may take action if their counterpart fails to pay Court ordered child support
Our state has strict laws in place regarding the non-payment of child support. Under California Family Code Section 4722 support payments are subject to a six percent penalty once they are thirty days late. If the money remains unpaid then an additional six percent will be added each month until the total penalty reaches seventy-two percent. In other words, after thirty days a $100 obligation can become $106 and, after one year, the obligation can reach $172. Additionally, the non-paying parent may be subject to jail time, the suspension of their driver’s license, the suspension of professional licenses, as well as other penalties. It is important to understand that the payments would remain due upon completion of these penalties; an Orange County parent who goes to jail for the non-payment of support will still owe the money upon their release from incarceration along with interest on the arrears at a rate of ten percent per year.
If the payor is behind on their obligations then the custodial parent may file a Contempt Motion with the Court after the amount of arrears has been determined. The Judge will hold a hearing. The Court’s primary focus will be to ensure that the custodial parent is paid what they are owed and the future payments are made on time. To reach this goal the Judge will typically require that payments be made on time going forward and that a monthly amount be paid towards any arrearages (the amount which has previously gone unpaid). In many cases the Judge will impose a jail sentence but will then “suspend” it as long as all payments are made on time. This means that the paying parent can avoid jail by meeting their financial obligations. If a parent repeatedly fails to make their payments then jail time becomes more likely.
Parents who have not received their child support payments should contact an Orange County lawyer immediately
Parents often wait to contact an attorney when child support has gone unpaid. This delay in contacting counsel may happen for several reasons. One may be attempting to avoid conflict, or one may simply feel bad for the paying party, or there may be other reasons. It is important to understand, however, that the longer you wait to enforce your rights then the longer it will take you for you to receive all of the money that you are owed. By retaining counsel immediately you can avoid finding yourself in a place where you are waiting months, or even years, to be fully compensated.
Contact our Laguna Hills office today to speak with an Orange County child support lawyer. We have extensive experience in handling arrearages and are able to assist you. Our Laguna Hills office also serves Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Tustin, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.