California residents may agree that non-custodial parents should pay the child support that has been ordered to ensure that their youngsters have the care that they need. However, the goals of the system can be undermined by other issues. For example, a custodial parent might recognize that the lack of responsibility of the child’s other parent could lead to nonpayment on an occasional or frequent basis. At the same time, seeking that support could lead to problems with eligibility for government benefits that might be needed to make ends meet.

A parent who owes child support could face legal consequences for nonpayment related to life changes. To obtain a modification of an order, it is necessary to return to court, which could be costly and time-consuming. By the time a modification is obtained, a large amount of child support debt could accrue. Actions such as wage garnishment could compound the problem when support-owing parents are trying to get back on their feet.

Some states have found that providing avenues for parents dealing with significant arrears, including the ability to earn the right to have a portion forgiven, can encourage consistency in making support payments in the future. For example, support-owing parents in Maryland can have as much as 75 percent of such debt dismissed for participation in parenting and work-related classes and for demonstrating consistency in work and future support payments. The ability to see large amounts reduced can be a motivating factor for a parent who feels overwhelmed by their debt.

It is not wise to ignores child support obligations in the face of a serious financial problem. Legal advice could be important for developing a strategy for dealing with problems related to a change in employment status or a similar adverse financial event.