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What Are Child Support Arrears?

Before any analysis of child support arrear [past due amounts] for your paternity, legal separation or divorce in San Diego Court, there must first be a valid child support order. An order must be obtained through the Family Law Court for child support and Doppelt and Forney, APLC (4) can represent you and assist you with obtaining a valid court order.

An oral [verbal] agreement for child support is not considered a valid court order and no past due amounts can arise with an oral agreement. Without a valid court order, there is no legal obligations for any child support to be paid even if you are legally entitled to a child support order under California law.

There are two strategies to obtain an order for child support which is valid for enforcement and, if not paid, enforceable for arrear. You may file a request for order for child support in your family law case. There is no difference in the amount of child support whether or not you were married [divorce or legal separation] or never married [paternity]. If you were not married, you will need to establish paternity first.

The Court will use the Disso Master program to calculate guideline child support using a computer program. Doppelt and Forney, APLC has this program in their office and can calculate the child support to try and give realistic expectations but, of course, up to the Judge. There are also deviations from guideline which can be requested such as a hardship and travel expenses. You may also ask the San Diego DCSS office to file for child support.

DCSS has exclusive jurisdiction over the issue of child support. This means that, if case open in DCSS court, the San Diego Family Law Judge cannot make child support orders. This can mean that your case is in two different courts at the same time: family law court for custody and visitation, alimony, division of debt and asset, and DCSS court for child support. The DCSS does not use the Disso Master and uses a different child support calculation program, but there is not a significant variance.

Child support may be on the of the largest amounts owed as a debt in the United States today. There may be over 30,000,000 children who are not receiving the child support court ordered.

Enforcement of a valid child support order first requires that there is a judgment on the past due [arrear]. This is accomplished by filing a Request for Order [motion] in the court where the child support order originates and is either DCSS or family law court. You will need to provide an accounting of the payments missed and payments made from the date the order was entered. The payee can assert any legal defenses. Child support cannot be discharged in federal bankruptcy. Interest accrues at the legal rate of ten percent per year simple interest.

If the case is at DCSS, options for missed payments include the following:

  • Intercept state or federal tax returns
  • Suspend professional licenses
  • Suspend drivers licenses
  • Refuse passport initial or renewal
  • Garnish wages with a wage assignment
  • Monthly payments for past due in addition to the ongoing support amount
  • Judgment amount in full and then collection in other methods such as liens on property

Feel free to call Doppelt and Forney, APLC at 800-769-4748 for a consultation for your child support arrear as well as any other family law issues. You will be offered a free in-person or virtual consultation in their office up to one half hour to discuss your individual case with a licensed California lawyer. Whether your case is in family law court in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Vista or downtown San Diego or in DCSS court, their attorneys have represented clients in all of these court houses.

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