Child support attorneys often refer to past due or back child support as arrears. California DCSS defines arrearages as “The unpaid child support payments for past periods owed by a parent who is obligated to pay by court order. The arrears or arrearage or arrearages include interest and are adjusted for the amount of any partial satisfaction of the judgment.”
When a parent misses a court-ordered child support payment, they are in arrears and must remedy the matter or face any associated consequences. However, parents who anticipate financial issues or have accumulated an arrearage may contact an experienced Los Angeles child support attorney to discuss their available options.
It is better to speak with an attorney before facing litigation or legal sanctions, including jail time for non-payment of child support.
Consequences of Child Support Arrears in California
A parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when a child reaches eighteen, marries, becomes emancipated, or meets another state-sanctioned qualification. Although new support payments cease, any arrears are due and owing to the other parent or state DCSS.
Child support arrears accrue interest at the rate of 10% per year. They may also be subject to a 6% to a 72% penalty if delinquent by more than thirty days.
Other consequences of unpaid child support include but are not limited to:
- Interception of wages, social security, unemployment, disability, workers’ compensation, and tax refunds;
- A revocation of one’s driver’s license or suspension of a state professional license;
- A negative impact on one’s credit score;
- A refusal to grant or renew a passport;
- A lien on personal property or third-party property one holds an interest in;
- Being charged with a misdemeanor; and
- Being charged with contempt of court.
While the court cannot change or reduce the amount of arrears a parent owes in child support, it can modify an arrearage under certain circumstances.
Modification of Child Support Arrears in California
If feasible, a parent should attempt to negotiate with the other parent to modify their child support arrearage. Although the court must approve any agreement, this is less costly and more time efficient than a court motion and hearing on the evidence.
When motioning the court, a parent and their Los Angeles family law attorney may ask to:
- Recalculate the amount owed to verify it is correct;
- Set a payment schedule for the arrearage that takes income and household expenses into account;
- Modify support for the time when the child or children lived with the parent;
- Dismiss a legally invalid child support judgment; and
- Reduce the amount of interest accrued.
Every child support case is different, and an attorney will advise court action based on a case’s unique facts.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
No matter your situation, if you are concerned about making your child support payments, contact an experienced attorney at Fernandez & Karney immediately. Waiting can only increase your stress and compound any monetary problems.
Fernandez & Karney’s skilled attorneys want to put your mind at ease by offering realistic solutions that fit your life. Do not hesitate. Please speak to our legal professionals today.