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How California courts handle unpaid child suport

Thousands of California parents and others throughout the country make regular monthly payments to help provide for their children’s financial needs. Many such parents have been ordered to do so by the court in conjunction with divorce proceedings and child support agreements. Once a judge issues an order, both parents must fully adhere to the terms, although this does not always happen.

There are typically several ways to arrange payments. Some parents come up with their own payment plans and agreements without going through a local support agency. Other situations involve the paying parent’s employer, who is notified and told to take support payments out of the parent’s employment wages. In many cases, regardless of the type of payment arrangements that have been agreed upon, court-ordered payments are left unpaid for weeks, months or even years.

Disregarding a court order to pay child support can have serious repercussions. If a parent is unable to keep up with payments for some reason, he or she may petition the court to request modification of the court order, which might even include temporarily stopping payments until the financial crisis is resolved. However, if a parent has not been granted modification and the court determines that he or she is able to make timely payments but has not been doing so, the judge overseeing the case may issue an order of contempt.

Being found in contempt of court for child support can land a California parent behind bars. This is why it is critical for paying parents to fully adhere to the terms of their court orders and to take proper steps to request modification if needed. An experienced family law attorney can provide guidance and support for any parent who is currently experiencing legal problems related to this issue.