How Is Child Support Paid in California?

How Is Child Support Paid in California?

In California, child support is based on each parent’s net disposable monthly income and the amount of time the child will be cared for by each parent. The court considers each parent’s income from all sources, whether or not it is reported or taxed under federal and state law. Income can be in the form of money, property or services, including: wages from a job, commissions, bonuses, self-employment earnings, unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest, dividends, rental income, social security and pensions.

What are the logistics of paying child support?

Child support is paid on a regular schedule, such as monthly or biweekly. In their divorce agreement, a couple can decide how child support payments will be made.

Automatic payroll deduction – Payments can be automatically deducted from a parent’s paycheck, and then deposited into the recipient’s account.

Direct payment – A parent can make child support payments directly to the other parent by check or direct deposit. This method prevents the payer from having to involve their employer. Additionally, the recipient gets the funds faster, since there’s no third party intervention.

QDRO disbursement – A Qualified Domestic Relations Order may be used to pay child support from a retirement account.

Payment to the court – Payment can be made through the clerk of the court to a California child support enforcement agency, which then pays the recipient parent. There are currently 49 child support agencies across California that establish and enforce child support orders.

Trust – Especially when a child has special needs that require additional support, a trust can be set up to pay for child-support-related expenses.

Not paying child support is serious business

If a parent does not pay child support, there will be penalties. The court can hold the parent in contempt of court, possibly resulting in a fine and time in jail. The delinquent parent can also be criminally prosecuted by state and federal authorities. Nonpayment can affect the parent’s credit score, their bank accounts may be frozen, liens may be placed on property they own, tax refunds intercepted, their driver’s license suspended, professional licenses suspended, and passports not renewed, among other penalties.

Contact me for assistance


If you have any questions about child support and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please contact my office for a consultation. As an divorce attorney with a Master of Laws in Taxation, I will be happy to provide expert legal advice.

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