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Failure to Make Child Support Payment FAQs

 What happens when the parent required to pay child support has money to do so but refuses to pay?
There are many tools that DCSS may use to enforce a child support order. These tools are known as enforcement tools. Some enforcement tools are:
  • Liens
  • Intercepts
  • Credit Reporting
  • Passport Denial
  • Contempt
  • Full Collections Program
  • License Suspension

  •  Liens
    The Abstract of Support Judgment is a legal document that is recorded against the noncustodial parent’s name when a child support order is established. The Abstract of Support Judgment operates as a lien in any county in which the noncustodial parent owns property.

     Intercepts
  • Income Tax: DCSS can intercept state and federal income tax refunds to pay past due child support (arrears).
  • Lottery: DCSS can intercept California State Lottery winnings to pay past due child support.
  • Other: DCSS can intercept 25% of the following sources to pay the child support obligation:
  • Unemployment
  • State Disability Insurance
  • Social Security Administration
  • Worker’s Compensation Award

  •  Credit Reporting
    The noncustodial parent’s credit rating can be affected by the child support payment status. DCSS will report all payments or failure to pay to the major credit reporting agencies.

     Passport Denial
    Past due child support is reported to the U.S. State Department and can result in denial of passport issuance or renewal.

     Contempt
    Contempt is a disobedience of a valid court order. A contempt is brought to the Court’s attention by filing an Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Contempt. This is an order signed by a judicial officer that a party appear before the court and give reasons (show cause) why the court should not hold him/her in contempt for failure to abide by a court order.

     Full Collections Program (FCP)
    DCSS will provide financial institutions with a list of persons owing past due support. Financial institutions will provide DCSS with information regarding account holders who have past due obligations. As a result of this exchange, a withholding order or bank levy may be issued to secure child support collections through the Full Collections Program (FCP).

     What happens if a parent falls behind on his or her child support payments?
    All available enforcement tools can be used to enforce the child support obligation. The parent ordered to pay child support should contact DCSS if he or she is unable to make his or her child support payments due to changes in employment status or income or other changes that affect his or her ability to make the ordered child support payment.

     Why was my license suspended?
    State-issued business, professional and driver's licenses are submitted for suspension when the child support case is past due. Contact our office about your options with regard to getting your license reinstated.

     Why is there a lien filed against me?
    DCSS is mandated to record a legal document with the County Recorders Office that creates a lien against any real property the parent may own now or in the future.

     Why is DCSS charging interest on my child support order?
    According to current California law, interest accrues at the rate of 10% per year on any unpaid child support obligation. DCSS is mandated to enforce child support obligations including the interest at the legal rate owed on any unpaid child support (arrears).

     I pay my ongoing child support and my arrears payment every month. Why did DCSS intercept my state and federal tax refunds?
    State and federal laws provide that under most conditions, your federal and state tax refund can be intercepted by DCSS as payment on the past due support, even if you are current in your monthly payments.

     Why is my child support debt on my credit report?
    DCSS is required to report your ongoing child support obligation, arrears (past due) balance and your payment history to the major credit reporting agencies.

     Why did DCSS attach my wages?
    The Family Support Act of 1988 requires that all court orders for child support include a wage and earnings assignment.

     Is a parent required to pay child support while he or she is in jail?
    A parent required to pay child support who goes to jail should contact DCSS to request a modification of the child support order as soon as he or she learns that he or she is going to jail.