Single parents in California may face difficult financial struggles, especially when the other parent isn’t following through on child support obligations. However, parents who are owed outstanding support payments can take action to try to recover the debt. By going to family court or working with the California Department of Child Support Services, parents can seek enforcement of an existing child support order that is going unpaid.

Before going to court in a child support enforcement action, a parent should gather the proof that they tried to collect the support money and evidence that the other parent has not paid. In addition, it can be important to bring relevant evidence like the original child support judgment and proof of paternity. A parent can approach the state agency for assistance in enforcing an existing judgment, and various mechanisms can be pursued. Child support arrears can be damaging to a person’s credit, and liens can even be placed against the other parent’s property if they refuse to pay. More commonly, child support may be deducted from the other parent’s paycheck as part of wage garnishment. Even many forms of government benefits may be garnished in order to collect overdue support.

In order to enforce a child support order, there must be a formal order on record. Informal agreements are not sufficient to establish an obligation to pay. By establishing a court order, parents can make sure their children are protected further down the line.

Parents who are struggling financially because the other parent is failing to live up to child support obligations can reach out for help. A family law attorney can help a parent work with the DCSS or return to court to enforce the existing order.