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What to Do if an Ex Isn’t Paying Spousal or Child Support in California

To receive child support or spousal support from an ex-spouse (or unmarried partner in the case of child support), you will want to obtain an order from a California family law court requiring that the other person pay child support and/or spousal support. If an ex has been paying you voluntarily without a court order, and then decides to stop, there is generally no way to force that person to keep paying unless you have a court order in place.

But let’s say that you do in fact have a child support or spousal support order, but the other party is still unwilling to pay, or is habitually late in paying or paying you less than what you are owed. In such cases, it may be necessary to go back to court for additional measures to enforce your support award.

An experienced California family law attorney can go to California family law court on your behalf to enforce the order, but, in many cases, simply retaining an attorney to reach out to the other party and warn him or her of the possible consequences of failing to pay immediately can result in prompt payment without additional court intervention.

How a California Court Can Enforce an Existing Child or Spousal Support Order

There are a number of methods a California family law court can order to assist in your receiving the child or spousal support payments you are owed in a prompt manner, all of which impose an undesirable extra burden on the person who should be making the payment (for this reason, non-paying spouses will often respond to an attorney’s demands without the need to go to court).

First off, a court can order that the employer of the person subject to the order garnish that person’s wages for the amount of support, so that your portion is taken out before he or she ever receives the wages. If an employer refuses to abide by a wage garnishment order, your attorney may sue the employer to comply with the order.

An attorney can also seek to place a lien on the real estate or bank accounts of the spouse who should be paying support. A lien on property means that the title to the property will have a cloud over it, making potential buyers cautious, and you can seek payment of current and back support orders from the sale of the property.

Additionally, an attorney can utilize other methods for seeking back support, such as raising the issue with a state licensing authority that issued the payor’s work license. An attorney can also take action to seek payment from unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and even tax refunds.

Get Answers to Your California Family Law Questions

At Kearney | Baker in Pasadena, we represent spouses through all aspects of the dissolution/divorce process. Our partners, Brian A. Baker and Gary W. Kearney, are both Family Law Specialists, as certified by the California State Bar. To schedule a consultation regarding any questions about family law in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945.

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