SAN DIEGO AND CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA – You’ve navigated your way through the divorce process and you know how much child support you must pay each month.
Then you encounter financial difficulties and worry you can’t remain current on those child support payments. What’s the worst that could happen?
“You really don’t want to go there, because nothing good comes from falling behind on child support payments,” says San Diego divorce attorney John Griffith. “It can ruin your life.”
Child support arrears accrue 10 percent interest per annum.
2. Loss of privileges
The Department of Child Support Services can suspend your driver’s license and passport. It also can prevent you from continuing to work in your field by suspending the licenses required for you to work, says Griffith, a divorce law expert. These include law, medical and contractor licenses. This leaves you unable to continue your livelihood, which will only serve to put you farther behind on your child support obligations.
3. Loss of freedom
You can be put in jail on contempt of court charges for failing to pay the child support you owe.
Liens can be placed on bank accounts and other property. Your wages also can
“There are steps you can take when you fear that you’re going to fall behind on your payments, but you need to act quickly and follow the letter of the law to avoid getting yourself into a deeper bind,” Griffith says.
We recommend consulting an attorney, who will listen to your circumstances and devise the best approach. You may need to file for a child support order modification. The California Department of Child Support Services website states this can be requested if any of the following circumstances are reasons that threaten your ability to pay child support:
- You get fired or laid off from a job
- You get a new or additional job
- Your income or the other parent’s income increases or decreases
- You have more children
- Your custody/visitation with your children changes
- You’re in the military and you get deployed
- You become disabled
- You go to prison or jail
A modification may be justified if the support order would change by 20 percent or $50 – whichever is less, according to the Child Support Services website. If both parties can reach agreement on the support amount, a signed agreement is filed with the court. Otherwise, you must schedule a hearing for a judge or commissioner to determine the amount. If you need more information about child support, you can visit this web page.
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