I often receive questions from people about unpaid child support. Can I still collect on unpaid child support? Does interest accrue on unpaid child support? The answers to both of these questions are yes.
California law provides that a child support judgment is enforceable until paid in full or otherwise satisfied — even after the child reaches age 18. This includes interest and penalties computed thereon. (California Family Code Sections 291(a) and 4503). See also Marriage of Hamer (2000) 81CA4th 712, 718, 97 CR2d 195, 199.
Regarding child support arrearages (unpaid child support), like all money judgments, California child support orders accrue post-judgment interest at the legal rate of 10% per annum. Unless the judgment provides otherwise, the interest accrues as to each installment when each installment becomes due and continues to accrue for so long as the arrearage remains unpaid. See California Constitution Article XV, Section 1; California Codes of Civil Procedure Sections 685.010(a), (b), 685.020(b); Marriage of Hubner (2004) 124 CA4th 1082, 1089, 22 CR3d 549, 553‑554.
Since the interest on arrears accrues and is payable as a matter of law, trial courts are without authority to waive or forgive interest accrued on past‑due child support amounts, just as courts cannot retroactively modify or terminate the arrearages themselves. See Marriage of Hubner (herein); Marriage of Robinson (1998) 65 CA4th 93, 98, 76 CR2d 134, 137; Marriage of McClellan (2005) 130 CA4th 247, 259, 30 CR3d 5, 14‑15.
However, while you might get a judgment of arrears, including penalties and interests & an order for repayment, the reality is that it can still be difficult to collect the money. It would figure that if a person won’t pay child support they certainly won’t pay any higher amount.
If you have a valid order or judgment for the payment of Child support in California, you have the right to demand payment and enforce the judgment. There are many ways to enforce a child support order (this will be a discussion for another time). If the parent who is ordered to pay child support refuses to pay, it is important that you see an attorney immediately to discuss your rights and possible remedies.
Please contact Attorney Mark A. Reed at (858) 277‑0232 to discuss your child support issues today.