California Child Support Basics

Bakersfield California Certified Family Law Specialist Vincent Gorski discusses the basics of California Child Support. This article addresses the basics of California child support including when support ends and what happens when you do not pay.

In California, both parents have a legal duty to provide the daily necessities for their minor children. Consequently, both the mother and father of a child are statutorily obligated to support them and take care of their daily needs. The California Family Codes states that both parents are “Mutually Responsible” to support their minor child.

What is Child Support?

Child support is a court-determined amount of money that is paid by the Non-Custodial Parent to the Custodial Parent for the daily needs of their minor child. Generally, the court directs the parent to make child support payments after parents separate.

When do Child Support Payments End in California?

A parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when a child turns 18 if they are no longer a full-time high school student.  If a child turns 18 and is still a full-time high school student living with a parent, child support ends upon the earlier of the child graduating or turning 19. 

Additional circumstances that terminate a child support obligation are when a child marries, dies, joins the military or is emancipated.

The California Family Code states that both parents are ‘Mutually Responsible’ to support their minor children.

What happens when a Parent fails to make court ordered child support payments?

Parents should comply with court orders to pay child support.  If a parent fails to make the payment of the court-determined child support, they can face serious consequences such as suspension of their driver license, interception of tax refunds, suspension of professional licenses, and imposition of a lien on the delinquent parent’s real property.  If the court finds that the delinquent parent willingly refused to pay support, the court can hold that parent in contempt of court and enter a fine or sentence the parent to up to five days in jail or community service. 

What are Child Support Arrears?

Child support arrears are past-due child support obligations. If a parent fails to pay court ordered child support payment on the due date, interest accrues on the past due amount at the rate of 10% per year.

Garnishing Wages for Payment of Child Support.

Yes! The court may enter an Income Withholding Order, or Garnishment Order, or Wage Assignment Order for payment of support.  If this happens, your employer will be legally obligated to withhold a certain amount of your wages for payment of your court ordered support.

Do you need to pay back child support after declaring bankruptcy?

Yes! A non-custodial parent cannot defray their liability to pay child support arrear by declaring bankruptcy. Further, the court may create a lien over the property of a non-custodial parent to recover the child support arrear.

Where can I find additional help with child support matters in Bakersfield?

You do not have to navigate the complex legal issues related to child support alone. At The Gorski Firm, APC, we have assisted clients with child support related matters for years. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you with your child support matter.

Additional information regarding child support is available at the California Courts website found by following this link:

Written by Vincent A. Gorski

Vincent Gorski is a Bakersfield California Family Law and Bankruptcy lawyer. He is certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization in both Family Law and Bankruptcy. He is the founder of The Gorski Firm and assists clients in complex and routine family law and bankruptcy issues. He was licensed to practice in Indiana in 2007 and California in 2009. He regularly writes on topics related to Bankruptcy and Family Law issues (divorce, custody, visitation, support, property division, etc.)

May 21, 2021

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