The Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in California

Parents in Los Angeles are both expected to support their children. This goes for parents who are divorced, separated, or those who never married. There is typically a custodial parent and child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent who holds primary custody. 

If you have questions about how your child is supported, reach out today. A Los Angeles family law attorney can answer any questions you have and can ensure your child’s rights, and yours are protected. We will ensure you have all the information necessary to make informed decisions about your child support issues. 

Why Child Support is Necessary

Child support is necessary to meet a child’s needs. The following list is the intended use of child support payments: 

  • Shelter, food, and clothing
  • Medical care and associated expenses
  • Educational costs
  • Reasonable expenses that can be incurred when rearing a child

Child support payments in Los Angeles are assigned according to a schedule in the child support order. The parent is not complying with the child support order by failing to pay the designated amount by the assigned due date. By missing even one child support payment, there can be stiff consequences. 

Warrants for Failure to Pay Child Support

Child support payments must be in full and on time to continue supporting a child. By missing a payment, the court has the right to issue an arrest warrant for the non-compliant parent. This warrant can be classified as civil or criminal. 

Civil Warrants 

Civil or “capias” warrants are issued as a failure to comply with a child support order issued by the court. The court sees these as the parent who failed to pay their child support being in contempt of court. For such a warrant, the parent may be fined or can be sentenced to less than a year in jail and, in some cases, both fined and incarcerated. 

Criminal Warrants

When the non-custodial parent has neglected to pay their child support payments for an extended time and has become significantly behind in offering support, state or federal prosecutors may issue a criminal warrant. This can happen no matter where the parent resides in the United States. 

A criminal warrant can carry hefty fines and a year or more jail time. In some cases, both fines and a jail sentence will apply.

Further Consequences for Failure to Pay Child Support in California

Parents who fail to pay child support may also face the following consequences: 

  • The Family Support Act of 1988 ensures that child support reaches the children by garnering the wages of the non-compliant parent if they owe child support to the custodial parent. 
  • The noncustodial parent may be required to provide health insurance for their child or children. If this is the case, that parent may see the amount owed for insurance deducted from their wages. 
  • In some cases, a property lien may be placed upon the personal or real property of the noncustodial parent for back child support. These liens could include their home or property, their retirement accounts, or bank accounts.
  • A non-custodial parent who is behind on their child support can be denied their tax refund. The money they would have received as a tax refund will go towards catching up on their child support payments.
  • In Los Angeles, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend the license of a parent who is behind on their child support payments. They must establish a suitable payment plan to have their driver’s license reinstated. 
  • Loss of hunting and boating licenses can also occur if a parent fails to pay their child support. They will not be reinstated until a payment plan is firmly in place. 
  • Professional licenses can also be suspended, making it even more challenging to maintain consistent child support payments. 
  • A parent who owes child support may try to leave the country to get out of paying their debt. This means that their passport can legally be revoked. This may negatively impact their immigration status as well. 

Contact a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney With Your Child Support Issues Today

If you are a noncustodial parent who is struggling to make your assigned payments, reach out to a Los Angeles family law attorney with Martin Family Law Group for help. Your child support agreement can possibly be modified. There are things you can do before you let it get so far behind that you face jail time and other severe consequences. 

If you are the custodial parent and your child is not receiving the court-ordered support they are owed, we can help. Our child support attorneys will work with you to ensure that both parents are doing their part and your child is given the support they need to thrive. Reach out today to see how we can help.