Non-payment of child support will result in interest being levied on the arrears. This interest is levied by law and a judge does not have the discretion of stop interest on past due child support. For child support due on or after 1/1/1983, interest rate is 10% per year while it is 7% per year for child support due prior to 1/1/1983.
Wage garnishment is a common method of enforcing child support. You will have to pay the back due child support as well as the interest on the back due child support. If you pay your back due child support in installments, the interest will continue to accumulate.
You should pay child support according to the child support order or agreement. Nonpayment of child support can result in serious consequences including a jail time. Jail time is often the last resort when all other methods of enforcing payment have failed.
Most states report nonpayment to the credit bureaus, affecting your credit rating. All report to the federal “new hire database,” which means that if you try to change jobs, your prospective new employer can find out that you are behind in your child support. You can have your passport denied and your tax refunds intercepted. Some states list nonpaying parents on public Web pages. Child support obligations don’t go away, either—in most states there’s no limit on how many years can pass between the order and collection of the support payments. Even if you file for bankruptcy, you can’t wipe out your obligation to support your children.
In California, the paying parent must make timely and full payment of the court ordered child support. To minimize the enforcement action, you should immediately inform the local child support agency if you are unable to make the payment but you will still continue to owe the unpaid amount and interest will accumulate on the unpaid amount.
In California, you have different options of paying child support. Speak to the local child support agency before making the payments to know if you are eligible for using any of the following methods:
• Mailing the check to the State Disbursement Unit.
• Making an online payment at www.casdu.com
• Setting up an automatic withdrawal from your bank account or credit card
• Pay over the telephone by calling 1-866-901-3212
Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP)
In some cases, you may be permitted to pay less than the total child support owned if your child received some public assistance during the time you did not pay the child support. This is referred to as a compromise of arrears. Not everyone qualifies for the compromise of arrears program. Please check the program eligibility requirements. If you want to know if you qualify, get in touch with the local child support agency and provide all the required information. The agency will review your information and inform you if you are eligible under the program.
Family Reunification Program
If the separation or divorce has resulted in aid being granted to the child and the child is subsequently returned to the paying parent, the paying parent may be eligible for compromise of arrears under the Family Reunion Program if the parent’s net income is below 250% of the federal poverty level. The local child support agency will review the facts and determine the compromise amount which may be up to 100% of the arrears.
If the paying parent is a reservist or member of the National Guard activated to military service, then that parent may receive benefit of the fact that the support order did not reflect their lower pay in the military.
For more details about the compromise in arrears program, contact the Department of Child Support Services (COAP).