How Much Overdue Child Support Is a Felony in California?

California parents who end their relationship or marriage often face the challenge of one parent owing child support to the other. When this happens, it can create tension and conflict, especially if the parent who is supposed to be receiving support is not getting it. In some cases, this can even lead to law enforcement getting involved. This is a serious matter, as the funds that are supposed to go towards taking care of a child should be taken seriously. It can directly impact the child’s quality of life and wellbeing, such as not being able to afford food, clothes, or even a place to live.

If you are a parent who is owed pending child support, you may wonder if the other parent can be charged with a felony. As this is a serious matter, you want to ensure that your child is taken care of. Fortunately, in California, whether the scenario escalates to a felony, or a different route is taken, options are available to ensure that you and your child are taken care of.

What Is Child Support in California?

In California, both parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their children. This is true regardless of whether the parents are married, separated, divorced, or were never officially married in the first place. The total amount of child support to be paid is typically set by a court, although there are other ways it can be determined as well.

For child support to be set, both parents must first provide information about their income and assets. Based on this information, the court will determine how much each parent should contribute. The amount of child support to be paid can be modified if there are significant changes in either parent’s income or assets.

Child support typically covers basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. However, it may also cover other expenses such as childcare, educational expenses, and extracurricular activities.

Factors that are considered when setting the amount of child support include:

  • The income of both parents
  • The number of children
  • The age of the children
  • The physical custody arrangement
  • The child’s health care needs
  • The child’s educational needs

When Does a Felony Child Support Charge Occur in California?

In California, consistent failure to pay child support can result in a felony charge. This is when the parent who should be paying support owes more than $2,500 in back payments. If the total sum is less than that, there is still time for other solutions to be implemented before it reaches this point.

This includes:

  • Wage withholdings: This is when the parent’s employer is legally required to withhold a certain amount of money from their paycheck to go towards child support.
  • Property liens: The state will put a lien on the parent’s property, such as their house or car. This means the property cannot be sold until the debt is paid off.
  • Passport denial: The non-paying parent will not be able to renew their passport or get a new one until they have paid off their child support debt.
  • Suspension of driver’s license: The non-paying parent’s driver’s license can be suspended until they have paid off their debt.

Because there is a large focus on restoring the family’s income, so the child is minimally impacted, a felony charge is typically a last resort. Therefore, it is important for the parent who should be receiving support to act as soon as possible if payments are not being made.


Q: How Long Does a Non-custodial Parent Have to Pay Child Support in California?

A: There is no set timeframe in which a non-custodial parent must pay child support in California based on when the divorce occurred. However, support payments typically continue until the child turns 18 or 19, depending on certain factors, such as whether the child is still in high school. There are no examples of a parent still paying child support when the child is an adult.

Q: Is It Possible to Modify an Existing Child Support Order in California?

A: Yes, it is possible to modify a child support order in California if there has been a significant change in circumstances for either parent. This could include a change in income, the number of children, or the custody arrangement. Both parents can be confident that the court will make any necessary changes to ensure that child support payments are fair, regardless of how much circumstances change.

Q: What Happens If the Non-custodial Parent Leaves California?

A: If the non-custodial parent leaves California, they may still be required to pay child support. This is because child support is based on the income of the parent, not their location. However, it does require them to file the proper paperwork with the court in their new state to ensure that payments are still being made. If the non-custodial parent does not do this, they may eventually face an escalation of other penalties, such as wage withholding or criminal charges, if they continue to miss payments.

Q: What If the Non-custodial Parent Does Not Have a Job?

A: The court can explore a few different options if the non-custodial parent does not have a job or loses it. This includes looking into whether the non-custodial parent can receive unemployment benefits, child support from a new partner, or support from other family members. If none of these options are available, the court may reduce the amount of child support owed each month until the non-custodial parent can find another source of income. They will also connect the non-custodial parent with resources to help them find a new job.

Contact Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, Today

If you are a custodial parent who is not receiving the child support payments that you are owed, it is important to take action as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to collect the money that is owed to you. The attorneys at Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, have years of experience dealing with child support cases and can help you get the money you are entitled to. Contact the office today for a consultation.

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