How to Collect Back Child Support in California

Does your ex-spouse or partner owe you back child support? You may be able to garnish his or her wages to obtain the amount owed. California has several options for collecting back child support.  In California, unpaid child support is known as arrears.  Interest accrues on unpaid arrears at a rate of 10% annually.

File for Immediate Wage Garnishment

If you know where your ex works, you can file for an immediate wage garnishment.  Wages can be garnished to pay for both current payments and past due amounts.  You can obtain a wage garnishment by filling out a Findings and Order After Hearing (FL-340) along with any attachments the judge required and an Income Withholding for Child Support (FL-195).  You will need to make additional copies for your ex and the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) if they are involved.

Submit these forms to the court for the judge to review and sign. Once the forms have been signed, someone over age 18 (not you) will need to serve a copy on your ex and your ex’s employer.  Your ex’s employer will have 10 days to begin withholding child support from your ex’s paycheck and send the money to a State Discernment Unit, which will then pay you.  If your ex’s employer does not withhold child support, you can take the employer to court.  In some extreme cases, the employer may be responsible for making the child support payments.

Contact Local Child Support Agency to Collect Unpaid Child Support

If you need assistance with wage garnishment or other methods of collecting unpaid child support, you should contact your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA).  You can find your LCSA here:  Your LSCA can assist with wage garnishments. If you do not know where your ex is currently working, the LSCA may be able to locate his/her employer.  The LSCA can also help locate someone who owes child support, if you do not know where he/she is.  In California LSCAs have a lot of ways to collect unpaid child support including:

  • An LSCA can file a lien on real property.
  • The LSCA can suspend your ex’s driver’s license. They can also suspend professional licenses for occupations such as contractors, teachers, and lawyers.
  • If more then $2500 is owed, the State Department will not issue or renew their passport.
  • If more than $100 is owed, or child support is more than 60 days past due, the LSCA will inform the Franchise Tax Board. The Franchise Tax Board can seize money from bank accounts stock dividends, and rental incomes.  The Franchise Tax Board can also seize personal property to pay for child support.
  • The LSCA can intercept a Federal Income Tax refund to pay for unpaid child support.
  • The LSCA can also intercept certain benefits such as unemployment, disability, and worker’s compensation payments.

In California, there are many ways to collect unpaid child support.  California has no statute of limitations for unpaid child support, meaning you could sue an ex for unpaid child support plus interest when your child is an adult.

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