FAQ: My spouse/domestic partner was ordered to pay me spousal support in Orange County CA, but I have not received any money, how do I enforce child support payments in California?
How do I enforce child support payments in OC California If My Spouse or Domestic Partner Is Not Paying?
So, if you and your spouse or domestic partner are no longer together, and you have a child support order in place that orders your spouse or domestic partner to pay child support to you, your expectation is that the checks will arrive on time and be paid in full. But what happens when your spouse or domestic partner chooses not to pay, or not to pay in full?
You do have options under the California legal system. A child support order that was issued by the court is legally enforceable, and you may choose to use the law to make sure that your child is financially supported.
Your best bet when it comes to collecting child support that is owed to you is to obtain a wage assignment, which is a part of every California child support case. However, you do have other options.
The information below is meant to be a general guide to collecting child support that is owed to you. Remember that there is no substitute for actual legal advice from a qualified California family law attorney who understands your unique situation and can help explain how the law applies to you. If you have questions or you wish to move forward in the collection of child support, you should consider discussing your options with an attorney.
Failing to pay child support can bring serious consequences against the partner or spouse who is willfully not paying support. In addition to a wage assignment, or wage garnishment, he or she may also be held in contempt of court, which may bring jail time or additional fines. Late child support in California also includes interest charges.
The Basics of a Child Support Order in OC California
• It will list both parties as well as their attorneys, including names, contact information, and place of employment;
• It will list the court where the child support order was issued;
• It will include the type of child support order (ex parte, modification, temporary, or final);
• It will state whether the order has been entered into the court, and whether or not the order can be argued prior to its effective date;
• A child support order will usually list the children, the amounts to be paid for each child, and what the money is for;
• It will include a start date;
• It will usually include a stipulation for the case that the amount listed is not enough and more is needed urgently.
The details of the court order should be clear to all involved, and if either party has questions, it is best to ask an attorney.
Every child support order also includes a wage assignment, or wage garnishment, automatically. As long as your local child support agency is not involved, you may choose to forego the wage assignment and arrange a different way to make payments. In this case, the wage assignment will be stayed, or put on hold, as long as the parents can work out another way for payments to be made.
If the local child support agency is involved, however, their permission is required in order for the wage assignment to be stayed. It may be more difficult to have the wage garnishment stayed in this situation.
However, if your spouse is not paying child support, a wage assignment can come in handy, and you may wish to reinstate it in the case that you and your partner or spouse have put it on hold and your spouse or partner is not paying.
Obtaining a Wage Assignment in OC California
A wage assignment, or wage garnishment, is a way for your spouse or partner’s employer to take child support payments out of his or her paycheck prior to paying your spouse or partner. This way you are guaranteed to receive payment both in full and on time.
If your local child support agency is involved in your case, there will generally be an automatic wage assignment in place.
If your local child support agency is not involved in your case and you wish to reinstate a wage assignment, you may have to prepare the wage assignment yourself. To do this, you’ll need to fill out the following forms.
• Findings and Order After Hearing - include other information that the judge provided here.
• Income Withholding for Support
It is in your best interest to discuss these forms with a qualified lawyer prior to submitting them to the court. You’ll need two copies in addition to the original - one for you and one for your spouse or partner.
You’ll need to submit the forms to the court for the judge’s signature, and then serve them on your partner or spouse in addition to the child support order. Make sure to file your proof of service so that the court knows that your spouse or partner has the orders.
How Does a Wage Assignment Help in OC California?
If your local child support agency is involved in your case, the payments will be sent to the State Disbursement Unit, who will then forward payments on to you.
If, however, your spouse or partner’s employer does not take payments out of the person’s paychecks, you have several options.
• First, write the employer a letter stating that they need to follow the terms of the wage assignment.
• If that does not work, you may take the employer to court.
• Finally, you may hold the employer responsible for payments as well - but only as a last resort.
• Remember that your local child support agency is there to help you with child support issues, and can be used as a resource at any point in your child support case.
Ending the Stay on Your Wage Assignment in California
If your partner or spouse has fallen behind in payments, and you wish to have the wage garnishment reinstated, the following steps should be taken.
• Find and fill out a Stay of Service of Earnings Assignment Order. At the top of the form, there is a box to check for Termination of Stay.
• Make two copies, submit them to the court, and obtain the judge’s signature.
• The court will keep the original on file; the copies are for you to keep and for you to serve on your spouse or partner.
• Make sure to file a proof of service with the court.
• The employer is required to take payments out of your partner or spouse’s wages at this point.
What if I Am Still Having Trouble Collecting Child Support in California?
• Intercepting a tax return;
• Freezing a bank account;
• Suspending a driver's license or other professional license;
• Reporting missed payments to a credit reporting agency;
• Denying a passport renewal or passport;
• Placing a lien on property;
• Intercepting government benefits, from social security disability to unemployment;
• Intercepting lottery winnings payments;
• Other modes of intercepting funds from your spouse or partner.
Your spouse or partner may also be required to pay interest on missed or late payments, as well as payments that were not made in full. Always discuss your case with an attorney if possible.
Child Support Enforcement Attorneys in Southern California
At Yanez & Associates, we offer free initial consultations so that you can get to know our lawyers, and we can get to know you and your case. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.