For some California parents who pay or receive child support, the funds may move through the state’s disbursement unit. The SDU is responsible for child support payments that are done through income withholding from a parent’s employer. The responsibilities of the SDU are to receive and identify the payments and to disburse them to parents within two days of receipt. The exception to this two-day rule is if there are arrears that are in dispute.
If the family receiving child support also receives Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the state has the option of reimbursing itself and the federal government for the TANF payments out of the child support payment. However, studies have shown that a pass-through of TANF has a number of benefits for families including reducing the likelihood of fathers participating in the underground economy, more child support paid, more financial security for families receiving TANF, and a smoother transition from welfare to work.
Families keep their rights to child support when they are no longer on TANF. If the parent paying child support fell into arrears, the state retains the right to keep that amount when it is finally paid as a TANF reimbursement.
California child support guidelines take the income of both parents into account along with the amount of time the child is with each parent. Custody and visitation might be decided by a judge, or parents may be able to reach an agreement that the court approves. A formal child support agreement means that a parent can turn to local, state or federal child support enforcement agencies if necessary. In addition to garnishing wages, there are a number of penalties associated with failure to pay child support. If a parent is no longer able to pay support due to a change in financial circumstances, it is possible to request a child support modification.