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Recourse when child support stops

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Raising a child is not cheap!  A lot of different variables determine just how much it could cost, such as in what part of the country you live and the intricacies of your lifestyle.  Another key factor is whether the household has one or two people contributing financially.  Several news sources, like CNN, report that it could cost upwards of $300,000 plus to raise a child until the age of 18.  Since it is likely that this amount could be higher, custodial parents need to take the necessary steps to ensure that they receive the financial support they need to raise their child.  This would include securing a child support order through the court.


Even when a custodial parent has a child support order in place, that may not be enough to guarantee payment will be received.  Payments may come in on time for months or even years but may stop with or without warning.  In that case, what recourse does a custodial parent have when they depend on that money to provide for their child?  California law allows for several options when trying to recover pursuant to a child support order.  The most common avenue is enforcing a wage assignment.  In every case ordering child support, the court will issue a wage assignment.  This requires the employer of the parent ordered to pay support to take the support payments directly out of his or her paychecks.  The employer must send the payments to the California State Distribution Unit (SDU) and then the SDU sends the payments to the custodial parent.  If the employer fails to or refuses to abide by the order, the custodial parent may be able to take legal action against the employer.

At the time the order is made, parents sometimes decide and ask the court to stay the assignment if they agree to handle the payments in an alternate way.  If support payments fall behind, you can petition the court to serve the wage assignment on the employer.  This can include a request that past child support called “arrears” also be factored into the wage assignment.  Past due child support also accumulates interest, at a rate of 10 percent per year, so it may be necessary to have the court determine the amount owed.  At that time, the court can make an order for a monthly payment on the arrears in additional to the regular monthly support payment.  The arrears ordered can also be withheld from that parent’s paycheck.

In addition to enforcing a wage assignment, custodial parents can enlist the help of an attorney to put a lien on any real property and bank accounts that the ordered parent owns in California.  An attorney could also work to intercept any tax refund, unemployment, disability, or worker’s compensation benefits.  They may also be able to request the suspension of any personal or professional licenses the ordered parent possesses.  Lastly, by having an attorney in your corner you may be able to pursue any additional legal action they see fit.  For more information, call The Law Offices Damian M. Nolan at 562-634-1115.

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