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What happens if you fall behind on child support payments?

There may be understandable reasons as to why Californians have fallen behind on child support payments. These include major illnesses or a job loss. Nonetheless, one's obligation to pay child support will not go away, and the failure to do so could lead to some undesirable consequences.

What happens in California if one does not meet their child support obligations? First, if one does not currently have support withheld from wages, the parent to whom child support is owed can move the court to have payments directly extracted from paychecks. A wage assignment can also be used to address past due support, along with any interest that accumulates.

If the receiving parent is not certain as to how much support is in arrears, he or she can also move the court to determine the total amount of child support that is unpaid. This is known as a "determination of the arrearages owed." At the same time, the receiving parent can move the court to arrange a monthly payment plan to address the arrearages, along with the base monthly child support owed.

The parent's local child support agency (LCSA) may be involved in such cases. The LCSA has the ability to take further action. Tax refunds can be intercepted, liens can be put on real property and bank accounts in the state and licenses can be suspended. There may be other ways to enforce a support order as well.

As this shows, California parents who are owed child support have options for enforcing a child support order. In addition, if one falls behind on child support, or is facing other child support issues, they may want to do what is necessary to avoid falling further into arrears. Moving the court for a modification of a child support order may be one way to address such situations.

Source:, "Collecting a Child Support Order," accessed on Oct. 10, 2016

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