Child support orders are effectuated either by way of settlement, which would include a stipulated order, or, as a result of a contested hearing and/or trial in which the Court, after hearing the evidence, enters an order. It is most unfortunate if, after the parties have incurred time, inconvenience and in many cases, escalating fees, all of which result in a Court Order for child support, that the payor either ignores the payment, and/or refuses to make the child support payment in whole or in part. In such situations there are a number of remedies available to the parent who is not being paid in accordance with the Court Orders for child support. The payee parent may wish to consider some of the following remedies, which are not necessarily inclusive of all available remedies, but may be effective nonetheless:
This is a device that should be considered to be utilized at the very beginning after the Court Order for support is made. An Earnings Assignment Order for support is probably the most effective and commonly used enforcement method. The employer is required to deduct child support and pay it directly to the supported parent.
This is a process in which the defaulting party's bank and/or financial institution accounts can be levied upon after one of the parties files certain paperwork with the Court to have a Writ issued. The process can move as quickly as the Court clerk can process the paperwork. Once the bank account is levied, the defaulting parent has the right to seek an exemption, but those exemptions are relatively few and far between. This can be an effective way of either securing the funds or certainly getting the attention of the defaulting party.
This proceeding requires a Court hearing and it can take a significant period of time, sometimes 30 or 60 or more days, for the hearing to transpire. If the contempt proceeding results in a successful finding of contempt, the finding of a contempt does not automatically mean that the child support will be paid. The finding of contempt can result in incarceration and/or other punitive remedies, but not always the payment of actual support.
The supported parent should also consider utilizing the services of appropriate child support enforcement offices in the particular county in which the payee may reside. The utilization of government provided offices for the collection of child support can be extremely time consuming, but can, in the final instance also be successful in securing child support.
Robert C. Brandt, a Certified Family Law Specialist, heads the Family Law Department of Feinberg Mindel Brandt & Klein in Los Angeles.