In California child support cases, one of the early steps is to establish parentage. The non-custodial parent is responsible for making support payments to the person who is caring for the child. The person who receives support on behalf of the child may in various cases be the child’s parent, legal custodian, guardian or the person the child lives with.

In cases where a person who has been ordered to pay support fails to make payments, his or her income may be withheld. The definition of income here includes personal earnings, unemployment compensation, annuities, pensions, retirement benefits, lottery prizes, insurance proceeds, sick pay, disability pay, allowances, workers’ compensation benefits and any other type of income. There are government offices that have the power to garnish wages and withhold income of parents who fail to make child support payments.

The failure to pay child support may constitute contempt of court. Penalties for contempt may include fines, jail time or both. Federal law may apply in the cases of some non-paying parents, allowing for criminal charges punishable by up to six months in jail, fines and orders of mandatory restitution until back support is paid. Authorities may also be able to intercept state or federal tax refunds.

People who are owed back child support in California may want to speak with a lawyer. One who has experience in family law might be able to help by examining the facts of the situation and suggesting avenues to recover past due amounts that are needed for the child’s expenses.