Duration of Child Support in California and Consequences of Non-Payment

For many people, there is a common misconception that child support ceases to exist on the child’s 18th birthday.  This is simply not the case.  Absent an agreement by the parents or an incapacitated adult child, the statutory child support duty normally terminates when the child reaches age 19 or completes high school, which ever occurs first (Fam. Code §§3901(a) & (b)) Marriage of Everett (1990) 220 CA3d 846, 852.)

Sadly for many parents, child support was not paid and/or received on a consistent basis during the child’s minority.  As a result, the non-custodial parent can end up with an arrears balance with the Department of Child Support Services that is accruing interest at the rate of 10% per year.  For many, getting a notice in the mail that they are $50,000.00 behind is not uncommon.  Sadly, the bill you receive in the mail is sometimes a product of an accounting error and/or does not reflect payments made or received.

Options for Challenging Arrears

As the non-custodial parent you typically have the right to bring a motion before the court to determine child support arrears to confirm that the amount of arrears assessed on your account are correct. (Marriage of Robinson (1998) 65 CA4th 93, 98.)  In addition, there are times when the court, in its discretion, may craft a schedule or payment plan for support arrearages. Lastly, if the monies owed are monies due to the State and not the custodial parent, it may be possible to negotiate down the amount of arrears that are to be paid.

If you are faced with a large arrears balance please contact our office today to discuss your rights and options with our family law attorney Amy R. Tipton.

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466 W. Fallbrook,
Suite 102
Fresno, CA 93711
T: (559) 431-4888
F: (559) 821-4500

San Diego Branch:
10509 Vista Sorrento Pkwy., Suite 430
San Diego, CA 92121
T: (619) 399-7700
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