Yes, we have several options in California. If a parent is not paying child support, we always have the opportunity to file a contempt of court action.
If there is a valid and enforceable court order for child support and that court order is not being complied with, then, in theory, that non-compliant spouse is in contempt of court. We can file a contempt action, take that non-paying parent back to court, and if we successfully prove to the court that that child support order is not being complied with, then that non-compliant spouse can be subject to severe penalties-first and foremost being jail time.
There are other, less severe measures that we can resort to in California to get child support orders satisfied. We have a government agency called the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). If you are a parent who is receiving child support, or the parent who is paying it, for that matter, you can register your court order with the DCSS and they will then set up a computerized invoicing system so that a bill is sent to the payer spouse each month as a reminder. Then a system can be set up so the payments are sent straight to the DCSS for forwarding to the recipient spouse.
John Harding is the principal of the law firm of Harding & Associates in Northern California. He practices family law litigation and divorce mediation exclusively.