You're Behind on Child Support Payments - Now What?

Falling behind on child support payments can feel like an insurmountable problem, especially if you’re already struggling to make ends meet. Whether it’s because of a job loss or other financial hardship, the fear and uncertainty that comes with falling behind on payments can feel overwhelming.

Possible Consequences for Failure to Pay Child Support in CA

If you are behind on child support payments, it is important that you take steps to make sure the situation does not get worse. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away and can lead to serious consequences.

These consequences can include:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Denial of tax refund
  • Liens on property and bank accounts
  • Suspension of driving privileges or professional licenses
  • Revocation of passport
  • Jail time

How Enforcement of Child Support Works

If you are not paying child support, the payee can file a motion to hold you in contempt of court. Being held in contempt of court means that you are not following the court’s orders and could be subject to enforcement action. If this does not solve the problem, they may choose to pursue more serious penalties. The payee has three years to file a motion to hold a delinquent payor in contempt of court.

If you cannot pay child support, you must be able to demonstrate your inability to pay to the court. You may be able to have the amount reduced if you can prove that your financial situation has changed significantly since the court-ordered amount was established.

Modifying Child Support Payments

If you are unable to pay child support or need to pay a reduced amount due to a significant change in your circumstances, it’s important to act quickly and keep communication open with your ex-spouse. You may be able to reach an agreement with your ex to modify the amount of child support payments without having to go back to court.

If a mutually agreed-upon modification cannot be reached, the court can modify an existing child support order if it can be shown that there has been a significant change in circumstances.

This can include:

  • A change in income
  • Military deployment
  • An additional child from a different relationship
  • Significant changes to custody or visitation

In order for the court to modify your child support payment, you must file a request for modification form, provide proof of your changed circumstances, and attend any hearings that are scheduled. If you can demonstrate to the court that your circumstances warrant a modification, it may order either a permanent or temporary change in child support based on the circumstances.

Seeking Legal Help

If you are behind on child support payments and need help, it’s important to act quickly. By delaying or avoiding the issue, you are likely to make the problem worse.

If you are seeking a modification to child support either as the payor or payee, the experienced attorneys at Palmer Rodak & Associates can help. Our attorneys understand the complex process of modifying child support payments and are here to answer your questions every step of the way. Contact us online or call us at (760) 573-2223 for more information or to schedule a consultation.