Divorced parents sometimes have a hard time collecting child support payments on a regular basis. The obligated spouse may or may not pay on time and may even go for extended periods of time without making the ordered payments. This can place a severe hardship on the spouse who shoulders the parenting responsibilities. Fortunately, California state law provides an option for that parent to force her ex-spouse to live up to his obligation.
The California Family Code provides that an obligated parent who is 60 days or more delinquent in child support payments may be required to place on deposit assets that will ensure timely payments. The assets are deposited with a court-designated entity and may ultimately be used to satisfy the amount in arrears. The obligated parent may also be required to pay fees and costs to the designated holder of the assets in connection with management or liquidation of the assets.
In making a request for an order requiring the deposit of assets, the requesting parent must declare under penalty of perjury that the obligated parent owes an amount equivalent to 60 days of payments. Once made, the court will provide notice to the obligated parent, as well as an opportunity to be heard. The court may also issue an immediate restraining order instructing the obligated parent not to dispose of any assets except through the normal course of business. The parent may also be required to document any extraordinary expenses after issuance of the notice.
To avoid an order to deposit assets or to prevent the liquidation of deposited assets, an obligated parent must prove that the non-payment of support was not willful and without good faith. He must also show that he did not have the ability to pay. He may also defend against an order by showing one of the following circumstances:
- a change in child custody;
- a motion pending for reduction of child support based on reduction of income;
- illness or disability;
- a serious adverse impact on members of his immediate family who reside with him that would outweigh the harm to the custodial parent and children; and
- a serious impairment of the obligated parent’s ability to earn income.
The amount of assets required for deposit must be the equivalent of one year’s worth of child support payments or $6,000, whichever is less. If the obligated parent continues to be in arrears and fails to make a reasonable effort to catch up within a court specified time-frame, the designated holder of the assets on deposit may use the assets to pay the amount in arrears. This may involve the use of cash or the sale of assets such as personal property.
In many cases, the threat of filing a request for court-ordered asset deposit is enough to bring a delinquent ex-spouse around. Hopefully, that is most often the case. If you need assistance collecting child support payments, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We have extensive experience in family law matters and can help you determine whether court-ordered asset deposit is the right approach. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help you in your case: (415) 293-8314.