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What happens if a parent doesn’t pay child support?

Child support is an important responsibility for parents all across California. It ensures a parent contributes to a child’s well-being and makes it easier for recipient parents to provide the things their child needs.

However, there are circumstances under which parents who should be paying support fail to do so. This can happen for many reasons, from financial hardships to disagreements over parenting matters. But no matter what the reason may be, child support delinquency can have serious consequences.

  • Legal consequences: A parent who does not pay support can face a host of legal issues. This can include requirements to attend court hearings, criminal charges and possible incarceration.
  • Financial consequences: Not paying child support is not a wise financial decision, as it will likely end up costing a parent far more to get back on track than to keep up with payments. To enforce child support orders, local child support agencies could freeze a parent’s bank accounts, intercept tax refunds, revoke professional and driver’s licenses and report the delinquency to credit bureaus. Employers could also withhold earnings through wage garnishment. Interest also accumulates on unpaid child support at the rate of 10% per year.
  • Personal consequences: Falling behind in child support can have a considerable impact on all parties. The payor can experience stress and embarrassment; any amicability between parents can be lost as parents fight over payments; the child involved can feel angry with or abandoned by a non-paying parent.

These and other consequences of child support non-payment can take a considerable toll on all parties. As such, it is crucial to stay on track and avoid missing or partial payments. If this becomes impossible due to a change in circumstances, then you would be wise to consult an attorney to discuss requesting a modification of support.

Whether you pay or receive child support, know that it is up to you to comply with the orders. If this does not happen, there can be ramifications for everyone involved.

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