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How child support is collected and paid

Custodial parents in California might wonder how child support is collected and distributed in the state. Like other states, California has a central child support unit that is responsible for collecting and distributing child support for certain types of cases.

The central child support office is responsible for collecting and distributing child support in all Title IV-D cases as well as in non-Title IV-D cases in which there are income withholding orders. A Title IV-D case is one in which the custodial parent is receiving benefits under the Temporary Aid to Needy Families program. In those cases, the state is allowed to reimburse itself for the money it pays in TANF and Medicaid benefits up to the full amount of the child support.

In non-Title IV-D cases in which there are income withholding orders, the agency garnishes the child support amounts directly from the paychecks of the noncustodial parents. When the state receives the money, it is then distributed to the custodial parents. The system is supposed to reduce the likelihood that parents will fail to pay their child support.

Despite the system, some parents still fail to comply with their obligations. The support is ordered in the best interests of the child because both parents should be responsible for providing financial support to help with the upbringing of their children. If noncustodial parents become delinquent in their payments, there are ways to collect the arrearages that they owe. Family law attorneys may help their clients to locate parents who fail to pay their monthly support payments. They may file motions to hold the parents in contempt of court. They may also ask for the courts to issue wage garnishments, place liens on their property or assess other penalties that are designed to make the parents pay the money that they owe.

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