What Happens If I Fall Behind in My Child Support Payments?

You’ve navigated your way through the divorce process and you know how much child support you must pay each month.  Then you encounter financial difficulties and worry you can’t remain current on those child support payments. What’s the worst that could happen?

“You really don’t want to get to that point, because nothing good comes from falling behind on child support payments,” says San Diego child support lawyer John Griffith. “It can literally ruin your life.”

Rules to live by when it comes to child support:

1.  Pay your child support.

2.  If you can’t afford it then get the order modified.

Here’s how not paying child support can ruin your life:

1. Interest

Child support arrears accrue 10 percent interest per annum.

2. Loss of privileges

The Department of Child Support Services can suspend your driver’s license and passport. It also can prevent you from continuing to work in your field by suspending the licenses required for you to work, says Griffith, a divorce law expert. These include law, medical and contractor licenses. This leaves you unable to continue your livelihood, which will only serve to put you farther behind on your child support obligations.

3. Loss of freedom

You can be put in jail on contempt of court charges for failing to pay the child support you owe.

4. Liens

Liens can be placed on bank accounts and other property. Your wages also can

be levied.

“There are steps you can take when you fear that you’re going to fall behind on your payments, but you need to act quickly and follow the letter of the law to avoid getting yourself into a deeper bind,” Griffith says.

We recommend consulting an attorney, who will listen to your circumstances and devise the best approach. You may need to file for a child support order modification. The California Department of Child Support Services website states this can be requested if any of the following circumstances are reasons that threaten your ability to pay child support:

You get fired or laid off from a job

You get a new or additional job

Your income or the other parent’s income increases or decreases

You have more children

Your custody/visitation with your children changes

You’re in the military and you get deployed

You become disabled

You go to prison or jail

A modification of your child support order may be justified if the support order would change by 20 percent or $50 – whichever is less, according to the Child Support Services website. If both parties can reach agreement on the support amount, a signed agreement is filed with the court. Otherwise, you must schedule a hearing for a judge or commissioner to determine the amount.

The experienced family law attorney’s at Griffith, Young & Lass have represented hundreds of clients with child support and other divorce-related issues in San Diego.  Call now for a free 30-minute consultation.