Are you a party in a divorce who isn’t receiving court-ordered child support payments? If so, the Department of Child Support Services can help.
Child support matters can be confusing. The DCSS was created to help parents (both the payer or “obligor” and recipient or “obligee”) make sense of child support and to facilitate payments and collections, among other responsibilities.
Here is more information about the DCSS and how it can help you collect the court-ordered child support payments for your child’s benefit and for your peace of mind.
What is the DCSS & What Does the Department Do?
The DCSS consists of 49 child support agencies located across the state of California. These agencies exist to:
- Establish Paternity: The DCSS offers genetic testing at no cost. Genetic tests may also be court-ordered.
- Find Missing Parents: If the non-custodial parent cannot be located, the DCSS may be able to find the parent to enforce California family court orders.
- Enforce Child & Spousal Support Orders: The department can deduct money from the non-paying spouse’s paycheck, disability check, and can suspend licenses to force the obligor to begin making regular payments.
- Enforce Medical Support Orders: The DCSS may use enforcement tools to get the non-custodial spouse to pay for medical costs and health insurance for the children.
- Modify Child Support Orders: When life changes occur, the DCSS can help with child support modification in some cases.
- Facilitate Child Support Payments & Collections: The department will do whatever it can to ensure all parents are supporting their children financially, as dictated by California state law.
If you are not receiving the court-ordered child support payments, you can contact the agency in your area to open an enforcement case.
Opening a case with the Department of Child Support Services creates a record of the payments, acts as a go-between for parents, and can help both parents avoid court while navigating the often-complicated child support system.
How Can the DCSS Enforce the Non-Payment of Child Support?
California law takes a harsh stance against those who refuse to pay child support. The DCSS can help to locate the non-custodial parent if he or she happens to be missing and can even withhold money from the parent’s paycheck if they are employed.
There are a few other options when it comes to the enforcement of unpaid support.
If the obligor has not paid the court-ordered payments within thirty-days, notices will be sent out to the various licensing boards. This can set in motion penalties that can include:
- A suspension of the obligor’s driver’s license
- A suspension of his or her passport
- A suspension of any or all professional licenses
- An interception of the obligor’s tax refund
- An interception of insurance payments or lottery winnings
- Property & bank account liens
Also, California state law states that unpaid court orders should be charged 10% interest.
In extreme cases, such as when other enforcement tools have failed, the non-paying parent could be charged with “contempt of court,” which can result in arrest and imprisonment.
What if You Have Moved Out of State?
If you are the obligee of the court-ordered payments and happen to have moved beyond the borders of California, your court-ordered child support can still be enforced. Child support orders can be pursued in all 50 states, as well as in many foreign countries. Two laws prevent a state from altering another state’s court order: The Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
Are You Struggling to Pay Your Court-Ordered Child Support?
If you are the non-custodial parent who has failed to pay and you find yourself unable to make the mandated payments, you are encouraged to call the DCSS right away. The department has programs to help parents who are trying in good faith to make their child support payments.
You are also encouraged to speak to your family attorney who might be able to help you modify your payments to make them more affordable.
What the DCSS Cannot Do
The Department of Child Support Services will not help you handle custody or visitation matters, nor can they handle your divorce. Likewise, the department can’t obtain or enforce restraining orders, nor establish spousal support orders. Those responsibilities are reserved for your family law attorney.
The good news is that an experienced family lawyer is only a phone call away.
If you are located in Carlsbad, California, or any of the surrounding areas, and you require help with child support collection, contact the office of Griffith, Young, and Lass. Our experienced family lawyers can help you collect the child support payments you are owed. Call today for a free consultation.