Enforcement Methods

Mandatory Wage Withholding

The Family Support Act of 1988 requires that child support payments be withheld from a noncustodial parent's paycheck from the time that child support is ordered. The noncustodial parent's earnings will be withheld unless he or she can: 1) show good cause why it should not be done, or 2) has an alternative arrangement with the DCSS and the non-welfare custodial party. (Good cause and alternative arrangements concerning earning assignments are specified in state law in Family Code Section 5260).

The employer of the noncustodial parent is served with a court order to withhold a specified amount of current support and back child support if ordered, with instructions to send the wages to DCSS for distribution. Once a wage assignment is served, the employer must honor it as long as the noncustodial parent remains employed.

An employer may not take more than 50 percent of the noncustodial parent's net disposable earnings unless ordered to do so by the court. The wage assignment order has priority over any other withholding, with the exception of IRS liens, against the noncustodial parent. If you are a noncustodial parent and your employer is deducting more than 50 percent, contact DCSS.

Health Insurance Coverage Assignment

A health insurance coverage assignment is a court order that requires the noncustodial parent's employer (or other person providing health insurance to the noncustodial parent) to enroll the child(ren) in the parent's health insurance plan. The order also authorizes the employer to deduct the cost of the health care premiums from the noncustodial parent's earnings. The employer is instructed to notify DCSS of any lapse or change in the health insurance coverage.

Real Property Liens

DCSS will record support orders and judgments with the county Recorders office to create a lien against any real property in that county in which a noncustodial parent has or acquires interest. Any action by the noncustodial parent to sell or refinance is prevented unless the lien is satisfied in full, or other arrangements are made with DCSS.

If you are involved in a real estate transaction and a recorded judgment is discovered, have your title company contact our office by FAX: (530) 225-5464.

California FTB Collections

In January 1993, a law went into effect that allows the Franchise Tax Board to help collect past due support. This is called the FTB Child Support Collection Program. The Franchise Tax Board is allowed to collect money from bank accounts and wages to pay for child support. The FTB can also confiscate property such as boats, land and motorcycles. The FTB can also look out of state for any of these assets.

Statewide Intercept and Information Systems

  • Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board Tax Refund Intercept Systems
    Intercepts noncustodial parents' state and federal income tax refunds to pay their past due child support.
  • Unemployment Insurance Benefit Intercept System
    Intercepts a percentage of state unemployment payments owed to noncustodial parents to pay their past due child support.
  • Disability Insurance Benefit Intercept System
    Intercepts a percentage of state disability payments owed to noncustodial parents to pay their past due child support.
  • Lottery Winners Intercept
    Intercepts lottery winnings owed to noncustodial parents to pay past due child support.
  • Credit Reporting System
    Reports the names of noncustodial parents who have court orders requiring that they pay support, to all major credit reporting companies as good or bad credit risks.
  • State Licensing Match System (SLMS)
    Denies permanent state issued business, professional and driver's licenses (for example: cosmetologist, contractor, doctor, teacher, attorney, class A, B, and C drivers licenses) to noncustodial parents who owe past due child support and apply for a license or a renewal. Denies these same licenses to noncustodial parents who are four months or more behind in paying support. Revokes the licenses of any noncustodial parent who fails to continue to comply with an agreement to pay past due support in order to obtain a license.
  • New Hire Registry
    Employers in 17 industries must report new or rehired employees to the Employment Development Department within 30 days. Matches with the New Hire Registry provide DCSS with early identification when a noncustodial parent becomes employed.
  • Assets Match Program
    Identifies interest and dividend income paid to noncustodial parents who owe past due child support.
  • Workers' Compensation Appeals Board Match System
    Collects workers' compensation lump sum payments owed to noncustodial parents who owe past due child support.
  • Board of Equalization Sales and Use Tax Intercept System
    Intercepts sales and/or use tax refunds owed to noncustodial parents who owe past due child support.
  • Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Match
    Intercepts dividend payments owed to noncustodial parents who owe past due child support.

Civil and Criminal Remedies

When a noncustodial parent fails to pay, and other methods of enforcement are unsuccessful, the noncustodial parent can be taken to court. The most common forms of court action include:

  • Order to Show Cause to Seek Work
    In this action, the court will order the noncustodial parent to actively seek work. They will be ordered to return to court at a later date to monitor compliance.
  • Orders for Examination of Judgment Debtors
    In this action, the court will order a person who owes money (in this case child support) to go to court and answer questions about his or her income and assets.
  • Order to Show Cause for Contempt
    In this action, if it is determined that the noncustodial parent had knowledge of the order and could have paid child support, but did not, they are found to be in contempt of the court order. If found guilty of contempt, the noncustodial parent can be ordered to perform community service, or serve jail time.
  • PC270 (Failure to provide necessary food, clothing, shelter and medical attendance)
    When non-payment of support last for more than one year, the District Attorney's Office may file criminal charges (PC270), which can result in jail or prison time.