California Divorce Law: Motion for the Determination of Arrearages

By Erika Johansen

When couples divorce, the court often compels one parent to contribute child support. If you fail to pay your required support in California, the state will hold you liable for the amount past due, called arrears. The other parent can make a Motion for Determination of Arrearages, which asks the court to determine how much you owe. If you can't pay, California offers several options for dealing with arrears.

Overview

Under California law, each biological parent must support the child financially. An award of required child support is a standard part of the California divorce decree. Child support is intended to cover the child's ordinary living expenses, such as food, clothing and basic medical expenses, and usually continues until the child either reaches either the age of majority or becomes emancipated.

Determination of Arrearages

The Motion for Determination of Arrearages is intended to settle disputes about unpaid child support. Either party can move for a determination of arrearages by submitting a form known as the Application to Determine Arrearages to the court. After the court reviews the form, it may either simply make an order for one party to pay, or, if a large amount of money is in dispute, hold a hearing to decide the issue. After this hearing, the court will determine the exact amount owed and order the party to pay.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Consequences of Delinquency

Failure to pay child support can carry many negative consequences in California. Once the court determines the exact amount of child support arrears, you owe not only that amount, but interest of 10 percent a year. Credit reporting agencies will be informed and the delinquency will adversely affect your credit. Moreover, the State of California has the power to withhold benefits, such as state pension plan distributions, driver's licenses and state-issued unemployment and disability payments, until you pay your back-owed child support. The state can even bring you up on criminal contempt charges for failure to follow a court order.

Dealing with Arrearages

Depending your situation, there may be many options available to deal with child support arrears. You might ask the court to recalculate your support owed. If possible, you can negotiate directly with the other parent to reduce the amount owed or modify the payment schedule. All such arrangements between the parents must also be approved by the court. If the child received public assistance from the county during the time you failed to pay, some parents may be able to reduce their debt by negotiating directly with the county under the Compromise of Arrears program. If your situation forces you to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will still be liable for child support arrears; however, under California law, if you are able to pay off the support within the next five years, the court may forgive any interest owed on the arrears.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Penalties for Child Support Arrears in California
 

References

Resources

Related articles

Oregon Unpaid Child Support Penalties

Providing for a child's needs can be especially challenging for a single parent, especially when the parent isn't receiving regular child support payments. A child's need for shelter, transportation, food and clothing doesn't change just because a parent stops paying support. The Oregon Child Support Program can help a recipient parent collect child support. Oregon penalties for unpaid child support help motivate parents to stay current with their child support obligations.

Idaho Child Support Laws for a Non-Paying Parent

When parents separate or divorce, the custodial parent is typically entitled to child support from the parent who does not have primary custody. Idaho's child support guidelines set forth the amount the non-custodial parent must pay. The paying parent generally must make child support payments until a child turns 18. If payments are not made, Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare is authorized to enforce a court order to obtain payments.

Child Support Garnishment Rules & Regulations in Michigan

In Michigan, the friend of the court may enforce a court's order for child support by withholding, or garnishing, a parent's wages. The friend of the court may also garnish both state and federal tax returns, to a certain limit. Under some circumstances, a parent who is owed child support can initiate garnishment, and at other times, the friend of the court is required by law to initiate garnishment.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

California Laws on the Interception of a Tax Refund for Child Support Arrears

If you have a child support order under California law, you have the right to have the order enforced through tax ...

Alabama's State Laws on Child Support Payments

Alabama law requires a court order to establish child support payments. Depending on the facts of your case and whether ...

How to Collect Unpaid Alimony in California

A divorce case in California may include an order for spousal support, also known as alimony. Although alimony is not ...

How Are Child Support Arrears Assessed?

Child support "arrears" are amounts that came due and, for whatever reason, weren't paid. They may consist of missed ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED