Ideally, parents in California and throughout the country will do what is best for their children. However, some choose to either not report their income or make less than their true earning potential to avoid paying child support. If a person chooses to engage in such activity, it is referred to as voluntary impoverishment. While it can be frustrating for a custodial parent to not get the support that they may be entitled to, there are ways to compel payment.

If a parent doesn’t have a formal support order, they should go to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). A formal order can be created, and the OSCE has the power to review a noncustodial parent’s financial and employment history. It can be possible to determine how much a parent makes even if they are self-employed or work as part of the gig economy.

If it is determined that a parent is making less than their true earning potential, additional income may be imputed. For instance, if a parent should be making $50,000 a year, that is the income that will be used when creating a child support order. Those who seek the help of the OSCE should know that the process of investigating a parent can take several months or longer to complete.

There are few scenarios in which a parent won’t be penalized for failing to make child support payments. This is generally true even if a person withholds support because of a child custody dispute. As child support is seen to be a tool to meet the child’s best interests, the court takes nonpayment seriously. Those who are struggling to make their payments could ask for a modification to the most recent order.