Failure to Pay Child Support in a Covid 19 World
Due to the high cost of living, California child support orders tend to also be higher than many other states. If you find yourself unable to pay child support and fall behind on payments, it is critical that you modify your child support Order to reflect your current financial situation. (Due to Covid 19 and shelter in place, there currently is a delay in the courts and filing for modification will take longer than usual. It’s best to communicate your circumstances with the California Department of Child Support Services if you’re falling behind on payments due to circumstances surrounding COVID 19; layoffs, illness, etc.)
The Department of Child Support Services has many tools and methods at their disposal to collect child support payments. If you become delinquent on your support payments, you’ll want to act quickly to catch up and become current on your support obligation or to modify your support obligation. Failure to pay child support may result in the following consequences:
- Child support arrears (past due child support) are payable with a 10% annual interest rate;
- Suspension of driver’s license, professional license, or any state issued license; (Due to Covid 19 and shelter in place, there is a temporary moratorium on driver’s license suspensions.)
- Department of Child Support Services reports to the three major credit bureaus and failure to pay your support obligation can negatively impact your credit score;
- Being delinquent on support payments may prevent you from obtaining or renewing your passport;
- Your wages may be garnished;
- If you owe child support arrears your tax refund, workers’ compensation awards, a portion of disability benefits, a portion of unemployment benefits, and even lottery winnings may be intercepted and applied to any arrears owed;
- Your bank accounts may be levied; (Due to Covid19 and shelter in place, there is a temporary moratorium on levying bank accounts.)
- A lien may be placed on your real property such as a house or land; and
- If you can’t pay child support and are severely delinquent on your child support payments and the court determines you are willfully failing to pay your support obligation, the court may hold you in contempt of court which is a misdemeanor.
- Each month that you don’t pay your court ordered child support obligation can be considered one count of contempt and one count of contempt can potentially carry up to five days in jail.
- Jail time is typically used as a last resort to enforce a child support order since the parent owing support cannot work if they are in jail, may lose their job if they go to jail, and will be even less likely to pay their support obligation.
Once the child that the support was ordered for emancipates (turns 18 years old and graduates high school) the current child support obligation ends, but child support arrears are enforceable until they are paid in full and continue to accrue interest until they are paid in full. Child support arrears are not forgiven even in bankruptcy.
Are you falling behind on your child support payments?
Given the vast potential consequences of failing to pay child support, if you find yourself falling behind on your payments or unable to make the payments, the legal team at Beck Law P.C., can assist you in modifying your child support order and or defending you in your contempt proceedings. If you live in Mendocino County, Sonoma County, or Lake County California, contact our experienced Santa Rosa family law attorneys today to schedule a confidential consultation.