Child Support Enforcement
In the State of California, both you and the other parent have a legal obligation to financially care for your child. California Child support enforcement actions can be initiated by the Department of Child Support Services or may be handled privately between you and your California child support attorney, and the other parent and his or her family law attorney. In either scenario the California child support attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can assist you through the California child support enforcement process.
The Department of Child Support Services and the Child Support Process
The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is a government agency that seeks to enforce child support orders. DCSS is federally funded, but works through local child support agencies. According to Family Code section 17400(h) and (k), DCSS can work with you on any child support matter and assist you to:
• Open a child support case
• Locate another parent obligated to provide support for your child
• Establish paternity
• Establish a medical support order
• Collect on a support order
• Modify a support order; AND
• Assist with out-of-state child support orders
The DCSS aggressively pursues child support enforcement and handles many cases in the State of California which can sometimes impact the accuracy of the complaints filed by the DCSS. In addition, the DCSS uses the information provided by the other parent to initiate a child support action against you, which may not be very accurate. If you have been contacted by the DCSS and would like to contest a paternity and/or child support action, the family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can assist you. We will help ensure that you are required to pay only the amount of child support that is fair given the circumstances.
What Happens After DCSS Files a Complaint?
If the DCSS believes that you are responsible for a child support payment they will file a complaint against you and a proposed judgment with the court. The complaint forms require that you file an answer within 30 days, or else the DCSS proposed child support judgment will become legally binding. (Family Code 17430(a) and (b), 17400(d)(2)) This means that you may be required to pay child support based on your income history or the income that the other parent presumes you make.
The proposed judgment can require you to pay child support based on figures that do not accurately reflect your current income. It is important that you contact an experienced child support attorney to assist you if the DCSS has already filed a complaint against you. This will allow you to be heard before the court makes a child support judgment.
What Actions Can the State Take to Enforce Child Support Orders?
The State of California has many ways to enforce a child support order against you, including:
• A wage garnishment or earning assignment
• A health insurance coverage assignment; AND
• A property lien
Enforcement against your wages and property can have a substantial impact on your financial standing. If you feel that you are paying too much for child support, or if you would like to arrange a different situation with the other parent that does not require an earning assignment to be put in place, the California child support attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can assist you.
Wage Garnishment for Child Support
In any court proceeding for child support, the court is required to issue an earning assignment for child support. An earning assignment intercepts the wages and earnings you receive from your job in order to satisfy the child support order against you. An earning assignment can also intercept money you receive from:
• Social Security
• Unemployment; OR
• Any other source that provides you income
Service of an earning assignment can be “stayed” in certain situations. If service of the earning assignment is “stayed,” it means that the earning assignment will not automatically be implemented. In other words, your wages will not be automatically intercepted by the earning assignment. An earning assignment can be stayed for good cause or if you reach another payment arrangement with the other parent. In order to show good cause for stay of service of the earning assignment you must satisfy all of the following requirements:
• You must provide a written explanation why the stay of the wage assignment is in the best interests of your child
• You must have a history of full and timely payment of child support for the past 12 months
• You must not owe any support arrearages; AND
• You must show that the wage assignment, if put in place, would cause substantial hardship for you
These requirements are difficult to satisfy. The child support attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can assist you through the child support process by helping you negotiate with the other parent regarding child support payments to see if a fair arrangement can be reached.
Health Insurance Coverage Assignment
California requires that both you and the other parent, or one parent, provide health insurance coverage when a child support order has been made. (Family Code 3751) Therefore, you may have a health insurance coverage assignment put in place as a form of child support. A health insurance coverage assignment works slightly different than an earnings assignment in that a health insurance coverage assignment requires your employer to enroll the children in its health insurance plan that is made available to employees. (Family Code 3761)
In addition to an earning assignment, any property that you have an interest in can be used to pay your child support obligations. A lien may be placed against any real property you own, which requires that any money you gain on a sale or loan of the property must be used to pay child support. Our page on child support debt arrearages provides you with more information about property liens for past due child support obligations.
Other Consequences for Not Paying Child Support
In addition to a wage assignment or property lien, the State can also subject you to other consequences if you have child support arrears Child support arrears refer to child support debts. You will have child support arrears if you were formerly required to pay child support and failed to do so.
If you have child support arrears you may be subject to:
• A penalty payment from 6% to 72% of the arrearage amount
• Interest payment of 10% of the arrearage amount per year
• Driver’s license or professional state license suspension
• Federal government refusal to issue or renew your passport
• Negative impact on your credit report
Our child support debt arrears page describes the consequences of child support arrears in more depth. Make sure to visit our child support arrears page for more information.
California Child Support Attorney
At Wallin & Klarich, we approach every case with the belief that the person we’re representing could easily be one of our own family members. We have seen firsthand how stressful legal matters can be for our clients and their loved ones. We are committed to being available to our clients at all times — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Victorville, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Torrance and Ventura , there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available wherever you happen to live. If you are involved in a family law matter in California, you should call Wallin & Klarich today for a free evaluation of your case at (888) 749-7428. We will get through this together.