Regardless of whether a Californian is on the receiving or paying end of child support, the matter can become quite difficult. Custodial parents may struggle when they fail to receive the support they are owed, and noncustodial parents may find themselves facing their own financial stressors when their obligation is more than they can afford. Yet, the penalties for failing to pay child support can be much harsher than the financial strain it can place on a noncustodial parent.
In fact, there are a number of ways that nonpayment of child support can be penalized. Of course, many Californians are aware that wage garnishment may occur, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attempts to recoup child support arrearages. For example, those who fail to pay child support may have their bank accounts frozen and their professional licenses suspended. Additionally, credit bureaus may be made aware of the arrearages, thereby hurting one's ability to borrow for housing or a vehicle.
Other penalties exist in addition to these. One's passport may be withheld until arrearages of $2,500 or more are rectified, and criminal sanctions, including jail time, may be imposed. Also, those who receive benefits such as workers' compensation and disability benefits may have their payments redirected to the custodial parent. Tax returns can be handled in the same manner.
The state, and custodial parents have a lot of power when it comes to enforcing child support orders. Those who are seeking to recover these payments would do well to familiarize themselves with what they can do to recover the money they are owed. On the other hand, noncustodial parents who are behind on their child support obligations may wish to consult with a qualified family law attorney to determine how best to protect themselves.