One of the most vexing issues faced by divorcing couples in California is child support for minor children. The problem can become even more difficult if the ex-spouse who is responsible for paying child support decides to move from the state. This post will provide an overview of both situations: enforcing an order for support if both parents remain in the state and enforcing an order if one parent moves to another state.
Enforcing a support order with both parents in California
As might be expected, enforcing an order for support if both parent remain in California is relatively simple. Judges throughout the state are empowered to enforce valid orders for support regardless of where the original order was entered. The party seeking to enforce the order, that is, compel the other party to meet his or her duty to pay, must obtain a copy of the original order and present it to a judge where the payor party resides. If the payor party disobeys an order to pay, he or she may be held in contempt of court.
Enforcing a support order after one spouse has left the state
California, like each of the other 49 states, has enacted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. Under the Act the state in which the order for support was initially issued retains jurisdiction over the child and both parents. The custodial parent can go to the court that originally issued the support order and, after providing the court with the non-paying parent’s address, can rely on the court to transmit the order and take necessary enforcement actions. These actions include, frozen bank accounts, suspended driver’s license, and interception of income tax refunds. Extreme penalties may include criminal sanctions or garnishment of the non-paying parent’s wages.
While California and many other states have established state agencies to assist parents in enforcing support orders, seeking advice from an experienced family law attorney may be helpful if the non-paying parent resists the attempt to enforce the order.