Can I Withhold Visitation for Unpaid Child Support?

While it can be frustrating and inconveniencing to not receive court-ordered child support, you cannot legally withhold visitation from the other party to try to force their hand. Rather than face repercussions for violating your visitation orders, you can take legal action, which we will discuss in further detail below. It is also important to note that the solutions in this article apply to court-ordered child support agreements. If you do not have a child support agreement that is considered a legal court order, you should consult with an attorney and file for child support.

California Child Support Enforcement

If you are owed child support, you can ask the court to issue a wage assignment and serve the obligor. If you originally opted to stay the wage assignment, you can reinstate the wage assignment to receive child support from the obligor’s paychecks by completing and filing Form FL-455 (Stay of Service of Earnings Assignment Order). When you fill out the form, check the box for “Termination of Stay,” and complete the second page of the document. For help completing the form, you can also work with a qualified family law attorney.

Once you submit your form, you may have to attend a court hearing. Whether you have a hearing or not, a judge will have to sign your form. Once signed, the wage assignment can be served to the obligor’s employer, and they can begin taking the support payment out of the obligor’s wages.

If the employer fails to send the child support after receiving the wage assignment, you and your attorney can send them a letter reminding them that they are legally required to adhere to the wage assignment. After a reasonable time has passed, if you still have not received payment, you can take legal action against the employer.

It is important to note that if the local child support agency (LCSA) is involved in your case, they will typically issue a wage assignment to collect support. They can also take steps

Consequences of Failing or Refusing to Pay Child Support

A parent who does not abide by their court-ordered child support agreement can face serious consequences from LCSA and the court, including:

  • Having their driver’s license and/or passport suspended
  • Having their wages garnished
  • Losing their professional or occupation licenses
  • Developing a bad credit score (as arrears are reported to credit bureaus)
  • Having liens placed on their property (i.e. homes, car, etc.) and bank accounts
  • Having their tax refunds intercepted and distributed to pay child support arrears
  • Having any lottery winnings intercepted and used to pay arrears
  • Being found in contempt of court (which can mean facing imprisonment, fines, and/or other criminal consequences)

Can You Modify a Child Custody Agreement?

In California, every three years, either parent can file papers asking the court to modify their child support agreement. Either party can also request to modify their agreement if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” Modification requests can be made to increase or decrease the child support amount.

Sometimes, the obligor parent may not be able to continue paying the original child support amount because they lost their job or suffered a loss of income. In these cases, they should file to modify the order as soon as possible rather than allow the support to go unpaid. Past-due child support accumulates interest (10% per year), and arrears can become costly over time.

Determining Arrears or Back Child Support

If you do not know exactly how much child support you are owed, you can also ask the court to determine the arrearage the obligor owes. To ask the court to make this determination, you and your attorney need to:

  • Completed Form FL-300 (Request for Order), Form FL-490 (Application to Determine Arrears), Form Fl-420 (Declaration of Payment History), and Form FL-421 (Payment History Attachment).
  • Make copies of your forms to keep for your records.
  • File your forms with the court clerk to receive your court date.
  • Serve the obligor with the papers and file your proof of service form.

At your hearing, the court will decide how much the obligor owes in arrears and implement a payment plan. These payments will be made in addition to the regular monthly child support.

Get Legal Help

At The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc, our attorneys have decades of combined experience. Child support and enforcement laws can be complex and confusing. Rather than try to resolve child support arrears or other issues yourself, retain our qualified attorneys. We can listen to your concerns and the details of your case and then develop a strategy to achieve your desired outcome. We offer high-quality legal counsel and are equipped to help clients with child support matters, including:

  • Initial filings and determinations
  • Enforcement
  • Mediation
  • Post-judgment modifications
  • Judicial determination of child support arrears
  • Defenses in enforcement action cases

To schedule a case consultation with our attorneys, telephone (949) 577-7935 or complete this online form. If you are experiencing issues with child support enforcement, we are here to help.