Child Support Lawyer - Wage Garnishment & Property Seizure | Burns Law

Child Support Collection: Wage Garnishment & Property Seizure

Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support

In California, each parent is responsible for the expenses to take care of their child, and in the event that only one parent has custody of the child, then the other must make monthly payments to assist in their care. These payments are called child support, and a judge determines the amount to be paid and issues a child support order. The payment amount is based on the following: 

  • Both parent's income levels 
  • Unemployment benefits 
  • Disability and workers' compensation benefits 
  • Social security and pensions 
  • Dividends, stocks 
  • The amount of time each person physically spends with the child
  • State guidelines

Child support payments are to support the child’s livelihood, and the expenses required to take care of them. Child support payments are used to pay for: 

  • Food, clothing, and shelter 
  • Health insurance 
  • School-related costs, like extracurricular activities

These matters are personal and may involve heightened emotions from either party, which is why many separating parents choose to hire a family law attorney in Los Angeles to help them through this process. While you have a lot invested since this is the well-being of your children, you will find experienced legal professionals are trained to deal with these matters professionally so that you can get the optimum outcome.

However, even if your lawyers work out a suitable agreement, it’s possible that the court-ordered amount may be intermittently paid or not paid at all. Despite these setbacks, the law is on your side, as the other parent is legally required to make those child support payments. 

Deciding that you need legal help for child support collection can be a daunting idea, but this is your child’s well-being at hand. An attorney can continue to assist you long after the initial decision is made by ensuring that these payments are making their way to your household.

What Happens if the Father Refuses to Pay Child Support?

Any financial support lawyers will tell you that this is a common occurrence. According to statistics, fathers are the ones paying child support 85% of the time, and it’s very common for mothers to miss out on at least one payment during the course of the child’s support period. 

As a parent in need of child support payments, you have three options to collect child support payments:

  1. Judge Order - You can go back to court and ask a judge to issue a judgment (called a judgment for child support) for the amount that you are missing. Once you have received the judgment, many serious collection methods are available to you, including property seizure
  2. Automatic Wage Withholding - This is a very common method to enforce a child support order. Even without a judgment for past-due child support, you can receive payments by automatic payments that are taken out of the other parent’s paycheck each pay period. This method can also encompass back pay, although you cannot take more than 50% of a paycheck.
  3. Federal and State Governments Intervention - You can get both the federal and state governments involved in enforcing child support orders, but these tactics can be aggressive. Many parents in need of child support choose wage garnishment and property seizure of this method.

Rest assured, you have options in the way you receive that overdue child support. The most common way to collect on a judgment for overdue support is through wage garnishment, which is generally preferred over the seizure of personal property. 

Wage Garnishment 

A wage garnishment is similar to income withholding, but with wage garnishment, the child support payment is removed from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck before it’s given to them. Wage garnishment is court ordered, and employers and the non-custodial parent do not have much say in the matter. 

The law allows employers to garnish up to 50% of a paycheck for child support payments that are past due, and this increases up to 65% if the parent is more than 12 weeks behind on their payments.

How is Wage Garnishment Accomplished?

The other parent’s employer is more involved in the wage garnishment process than they are. The employer will typically receive a letter in the mail with a copy of the court order detailing the payments. It’s the employer’s job to notify the employee of the wage garnishment that will be taking a portion of their future paychecks, and the employee must go to a judge to protest this, as the employer doesn’t have much say. 

During their court hearing, the non-custodial parent does not have very many arguments to protest their wage garnishment. Since wage garnishment is a measure that is taken after repeated non-payment of child support, there is little the other parent can do. The arguments that the court will consider include the following:

  • The court is charging the non-custodial parent the wrong amount, or that the amount they are being charged for has already been compensated  
  • The amount is too high, leaving the parent with too little to survive on 
  • The other parent had custody of the child at the time the payments were missed

Wage garnishment is an effective way to ensure you will receive child support because it leaves it up to a third-party to make the payments. Since the non-custodial parent does not have the ability to withhold the child support payments, it’s practically guaranteed that you will be receiving the determined amount each pay period.

If wage garnishment is not an option, the courts can also resort to property seizure.

Property Seizure 

In situations where the other parent does not have enough income to make up the child support payments while also covering their bills, another collection method can be used. Child support agencies can seize various assets that will count towards child support payments. 

Unpaid support can be compensated for by any property or possessions deemed valuable by the government. These include:

  • Cars and motorcycles 
  • Boats 
  • Airplanes 
  • Houses 
  • Corporate stock 
  • Horses 
  • Rent that is paid to the non-custodial parent

Contacting an Attorney

These methods may seem drastic, but the other parent has been ordered by a judge to pay child support. In your fight for support for your child, Los Angeles property seizure lawyers for government mandated child care are here to help. 

The Law Offices of Nigel Burns are experienced in matters regarding family issues, pre and post divorce. Whatever your situation is, one of our family dispute lawyers can provide you legal aid in a time that is likely very stressful for you. At our child support law firm, we strive to give you peace of mind as you navigate this time in your life.

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