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The consequences of failing to pay child support in California

Many non-custodial parents in California who have been ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent often fail to appreciate the consequences of ignoring such orders. Some non-custodial parents often assume that they can defeat the obligation to pay child and spousal support if they move to another state. Both assumptions are wrong.

An order for child support is an order of the court, and those who fail to obey the order are deemed to be in contempt of court. Contempt can be punished by imprisonment in addition to another order directing the payment of past due support. Most custodial parents, however, are not interested in imprisoning their child's other parent; they would much prefer to receive the obligatory payments. A custodial parent who has not received support payments can either seek relief from the court or ask a child support agency for assistance.

If the non-custodial parent has moved from California and has stopped making support payments, the custodial parent can employ the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to recover past due payments. An order made by a court in California can be entered in a court in the state to which the paying parent has moved, and the order has the same force and effect in that county that it had in California. The statute has been adopted in all 50 states, and it is a powerful tool in compelling a non-custodial parent to bring support payments current and to stay current on future payments.

All parents who are no longer in a relationship with one another need to understand that the courts may be able to modify support orders if the financial circumstances of either parent change. Unexpected events, such as a medical crisis for the child, can also be a reason to pursue a modification of the support order. Anyone with questions about recovering delinquent support payments or modifying an order for support may wish to consult an experienced divorce attorney.

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O'Brien Family Law, PC 

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Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916-468-0707
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