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What are the consequences of failing to pay child support?

Parents in California, who fail to keep up with child support payments, may not realize how serious the consequences may be. The media regularly report on parents who were arrested and even jailed for failure to maintain child support payments. People who are able to pay child support, but willfully withhold payment, may be found in contempt of court. Contempt could be a serious charge that may even result in incarceration.

If you were ordered by court to pay a specific amount of child support per month, you might want do whatever you can to pay the full amount every single month. Failure to do so will likely result in interest being added to the overdue amount. The interest charged, according to California law, depends on whether the child support was due before or after January 1, 1983.

If the overdue child support dates from before that date, you will be charged 7 percent interest per year. For overdue child support from after January 1, 1983, you will be charged 10 percent interest per year. The court may issue a garnishing order for child support against your salary. If you owe past-due child support, an increased monthly amount may be garnished to cover the interest. In addition, interest will continue to be added to the outstanding amount even if you are settling the arrears in installments.

If you can prove that your circumstances have significantly changed, causing your inability to maintain child support payments, you may find comfort in knowing that legal remedies exist. An experienced family law attorney will explain the legalities of child support modification requests. The attorney will assess your circumstances and gather evidence to show job-loss, substantial medical expenses, or whatever contributed to the change in your financial stability. He or she will represent you in the court and aim to get the existing child support order modified to a lower amount that will enable you to maintain regular payments. Our California family law website may provide more information about child support issues.

Source:, "Child Support", Nov. 10, 2014

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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