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Enforcing Child Support Orders

When parents reside in different states or different countries, child support issues can become complicated. You need the help of a knowledgeable family law attorney. Contact our office for a consultation to discuss your interstate or international child support situation.

A California Lawyer Experienced in All Aspects of Child Support

If you are considering or facing divorce with children in Orange County or Los Angeles County, it may be essential for you to form realistic expectations and protect your rights on the issue of child support. Experienced, widely respected family law attorney Brenda McCune can help you achieve clarity on this matter and deal with all other aspects of your divorce, whether your case is relatively straightforward or extremely complex.

In addition to providing strong divorce representation, our Brea law firm takes action for people whose financial circumstances have changed substantially due to a job loss or other major event. You can contact us to talk through your likelihood of success in receiving a change in your child support order. We offer a free initial consultation.

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Led by board-certified family law specialist Brenda McCune, our Brea, California firm is an excellent resource for people facing a full range of problems associated with divorce and its aftermath. We offer our clients honest, clear information about child support and other financial issues such as community property division.

We defend children's interests and help parents deal with difficult issues in communities ranging from Diamond Bar and Chino Hills, to Fullerton, Long Beach and Garden Grove, to Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana and Irvine — as well as nearby communities such as Yorba Linda, La Habra, La Mirada and Norco, California.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

Parents must meet their child support obligations. Those who do not pay, pay less than required or pay sporadically may be subject to contempt proceedings, fines and even jail time. If you have questions about enforcing a child support order or need help defending a contempt action, contact The Law Office of Brenda McCune in Brea, California. An experienced family law attorney can review your situation and explain your rights.

Contempt Proceedings

Contempt proceedings are one of the most common actions taken against parents who fail to pay child support. During contempt proceedings, the payor parent is charged with failing to comply with a court order. These proceedings can be civil or criminal. In civil proceedings, the parent can be ordered to serve an indefinite period in jail until he or she pays the support owed. Upon paying the back support, the parent is released from jail. In criminal contempt proceedings, the parent is sentenced to a set amount of time in jail as punishment for failing to comply with the order. The parent cannot pay the back support to shorten his or her jail sentence.

The key to holding a parent in contempt of a child support order is finding that the parent has the ability to pay child support but willfully failed to do so. Parents who do not have the ability to pay the support may have a successful defense to a contempt proceeding if they can prove they genuinely could not pay.

Wage Garnishment

Parents who owe back support may be subject to wage garnishment. The court can order an employer to withhold a certain percentage out of an employee's paycheck each pay period to meet his or her child support obligations. Additionally, under federal law, employers must report the names of new employees to the state's new hire directory, which is used to help locate parents who are delinquent in child support payments. There is also a national registry which can be used to help locate parents who move out of state to seek employment. Tax refunds and lottery winnings also can be subject to garnishment.

Enforcing Child Support Orders Across State Lines

State governments and the federal government have taken action to punish those who cross state lines in hopes of escaping their support obligations. States are required to give full faith and credit to valid final court judgments issued in other states - including child support orders. Thus, parents cannot seek out a new jurisdiction to gain a more favorable child support award. Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the court who issued the child support order retains continuing exclusive jurisdiction - this means that if the parents seek to make changes to the original order or seek to have it enforced, they must petition the court that originally issued the order. UIFSA provides state courts with long-arm jurisdiction in case one parent relocates to another jurisdiction.

In an effort to reduce welfare costs, the federal government has passed legislation to criminalize willful failures to pay child support. Under the Child Support Recovery Act and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, parents who fail to pay child support can face federal penalties, including fines and incarceration.


Delinquent child support payments can put a strain on families and society as a whole. For more information on enforcing a child support order, contact an experienced family law attorney at The Law Office of Brenda McCune in Brea, California.

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