The Department of Child Support Services will enforce a support order if the absent parent is not making any payments, is not paying the full amount of support, or simply at the request of the custodial parent. In accordance with State and Federal guidelines, the DCSS will use several methods of enforcement to collect and distribute payments.
When the noncustodial parent doesn't pay the full amount, or doesn't pay at all, enforcement action is necessary. The DCSS strives to make sure that child support payments are regularly made and in the correct amount and that health insurance, if ordered, is provided for the child. The best method of enforcement is determined on a case by case basis. Every case is different.
Decisions will be made based on all the information in the case, including the noncustodial parent's payment history, the date of the last payment, where they live and work, the noncustodial parent's income, and what kind of assets they have.
The DCSS will try to get the noncustodial parent to voluntarily pay. If this is unsuccessful, the DCSS will utilize as many enforcement tools as is necessary. Enforcement methods are outlined in the following:
Mandatory Wage Withholding
The Family Support Act of 1988 requires that child support payments be withheld from a noncustodial parent's paycheck from the time that child support is ordered. The noncustodial parent's earnings will be withheld unless they can: 1) show good cause why it should not be done, or 2) has an alternative arrangement with the DCSS and the custodial parent. (Good cause and alternative arrangements concerning earning assignments are specified in state law in Family Code Section 5260).
The employer of the noncustodial parent is served with a court order to withhold a specified amount of current support and back child support, with instructions to send the wages to the DCSS for distribution. Once a wage assignment is served, the employer must honor it as long as the noncustodial parent remains employed.
An employer may not take more than 50 percent of the noncustodial parent's disposable earnings unless ordered to do so by the court. The wage assignment order has priority over any other withholding order against the noncustodial parent. If you are a noncustodial parent and your employer is deducting more than 50 percent, contact the DCSS.
Health Insurance Coverage Assignment
A health insurance coverage assignment is a court order that requires the noncustodial parent's employer (or other person providing health insurance to the noncustodial parent) to enroll the child(ren) in the parent's health insurance plan. The order also authorizes the employer to deduct the cost of the health care premiums from the noncustodial parent's earnings. The employer is instructed to notify the DCSS of any lapse or change in the health insurance coverage.
Real Property Liens
The Department of Child Support Services will record support orders and judgment with the county recorder to create a lien against any real property in that county in which a noncustodial parent has or acquires an interest. Any action by the noncustodial parent to sell or refinance is prevented unless the lien is satisfied in full, or other arrangements are made with the DCSS.
If you are involved in a real estate transaction and a recorded judgment is discovered, have your title company contact our office by fax, (559) 494-1920.
California FTB Collections
In January 1993, a law went into effect that allows the Franchise Tax Board to help collect past-due support. The Franchise Tax Board is allowed to collect money from bank accounts and wages to pay for child support. The FTB can also confiscate property like boats, land and motorcycles.
Statewide Intercept and Information System
Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board Tax Refund Intercept Systems
Intercepts noncustodial parents' state and federal income tax refunds to pay their past-due child support.
Unemployment Insurance Benefit Intercept System
Intercepts a portion of state unemployment payments owed to noncustodial parents to pay their past-due child support.
Disability Insurance Benefit Intercept System
Intercepts a portion of state disability payments owed to noncustodial parents to pay their past-due child support.
Lottery Winners Intercept
Intercepts lottery winnings owed to noncustodial parents to pay past-due child support.
Credit Reporting System
Reports the names of noncustodial parents who have court orders requiring that they pay support, to all major credit reporting companies as good or bad credit risks.
State Licensing Match System (SLMS)
Denies permanent state issued business, professional and driver's licenses (for example: cosmetologist, contractor, doctor, teacher, attorney, class A, B, and C drivers licenses) to noncustodial parents who owe past-due child support and apply for a license or a renewal. Denies these same licenses to noncustodial parents who are four months or more behind in paying support whether or not they are renewing. Revokes the licenses of any noncustodial parent who fails to continue to comply with an agreement to pay past-due support in order to obtain a license.
New Hire Registry
Employers in 17 industries must report new or rehired employees to the Employment Development Department within 30 days. Matches with the New Hire Registry provide the DCSS with early identification when a noncustodial parent becomes employed.
Assets Match Program
Identifies interest and dividend income paid to noncustodial parents who owe past-due child support.
Workers' Compensation Appeals Board Match System
Collects workers' compensation lump sum payments owed to noncustodial parents who owe past-due child support.
Board of Equalization Sales and Use Tax Intercept System
Intercepts sales and/or use tax refunds owed to noncustodial parents who owe past-due child support.
Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Match
Intercepts dividend payments owed to noncustodial parents who owe past-due child support.
Civil and Criminal Remedies
When a noncustodial parent fails to pay, and other methods of enforcement are unsuccessful, the Department of Child Support Services can take them to court. The most common forms of court action include:
Order to Show Cause to Seek Work
In this action, the court will order the noncustodial parent to actively seek work. They will be ordered to return to court at a later date to monitor compliance.
Order to Show Cause for Examination
In this action, the noncustodial parent is required to notify the court of all income and assets. The court can order that the noncustodial parent seek work.
Order to Show Cause for Contempt
Frequently Asked Questions
In this action, if it is determined that the noncustodial parent had knowledge of the order and could have paid child support, but did not, they are found to be in contempt of the court order. If found guilty of contempt, the noncustodial parent can be ordered to perform community service, or serve jail time.