Question: My ex lives in California, I and my children live in Virginia. My twins just turned 18 and graduate from high school in June 2009. My oldest turns 21 in July. I am owed over $220,000.00 in child support arrears. I have written to the Gov of California and everyone I can think of – and still there is no pressure on my ex to remain employed. He is a Journeyman Steam fitter with a Union job (since 1988). He will work for a month or two, and “drag-up” (quit) and return to collecting Unemployment. This has been going on for years. I then get a generous $167.00 every two weeks when he is on Unemployment. However, there have been no payments at all for the last two 1/2 months. He has attempted to modify my order three times over the years and the courts (Santa Clara County) has always found in my favor.
I know he has not filed taxes since `1997 (when I left) and wonder if I will ever collect any of these arrears. I know he can not discharge them thru bankruptcy…what- if any – options do I have? I am sure he has no assets and believe that jail time just might encourage him to go back to work.
Answer: It would seem you best chance of collecting the support is to try to find any assets he might have, and attach them. Ask the CA Child support agency to do a State Parent Locator to find his assets. Consider hiring a private investigator in CA to do an asset check too.
Since the kids are over age 18 you can’t file criminal non support charges, so you will need to find a “civil” law process to collect the money, such as contempt of court, lien on property, seizure and sale of property., etc.
Contempt of court might work if the judge puts him in jail to force payment. To get a judge to do this you will need to provide evidence he has some assets. They can’t put someone in jail who has no visible source of income.
The court can order him to seek work and report into the CA child support agency weekly to prove he is looking for a job, but in these times it is unlikely he can easily find work, the unemployment rate in CA is high at present.
Check out this list of ways to locate absent parents and their income to see if any apply to your case:
LOCATION OF ABSENT PARENTS AND INVESTIGATIVE METHODS TO DETERMINE ASSETS
Locating an absent parent is the first step to successful enforcement or establishment of a child support court order that your child deserves.
Compile the following information as completely as possible to present to your child support agency:
1. Absent parent’s full name including middle name and any nicknames
2. Other names used by absent parent
3. Social Security Number: you can check insurance records, old driver’s licenses, old bank records, income tax returns, records from welfare,
4. Absent parent’s date and place of birth
5. The names and address of missing parent’s mother and father, including maiden name of mother.
6. Last known address and telephone number of absent parent
7. Last known employer, address, name of supervisor, type of work done
8. Any remarriage(s) by absent parent. Name of new spouse(s), address, current spouse’s maiden name and place of employment
9. Location of any property owned by absent parent
10. Any private, military or government pensions or benefits received by absent parent
11. Names, addresses, phone numbers of absent parent’s relatives and friends
12. Hobbies of absent parent
13. Clubs or organizations to which absent parent’s relatives and friends belong
14. Criminal record: date, place, type of offense of absent parent.
15. Probation: which city, county, state?
16. Military service: Identify branch, location of assignment and rank.
RESOURCES TO CHECK AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY:
1. Telephone book from last know location or possible current location
2. City Directory: Lists occupations and places of employment; has phone number listing that can provide and address
RESOURCES AVAILABLE AT GOVERNMENT OFFICES AND PRIVATE AGENCIES:
1. Recorders Office or Clerk of Courts list deeds to property
2. Fishing and Hunting License records
3. Voter Registration lists
4. State Department of Motor Vehicles: Two divisions: Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration. Check both by sending absent parent’s
name, date of birth and social security number. The office will send you the most recent address on file. There is usually a small fee.
Call and check.
5. Post Office: File a postal verification form. There is a 25 cent – $1 fee to verify an address or send the absent parent a letter at the last
known address requesting address correction. A verification will be returned to you when/if letter is forwarded.
6. If absent parent has a private business, check with the Secretary of State to see if it’s incorporated and verify the address of the corporation.
7. Occupational and Professional licensing bureaus if absent parent is a doctor, dentist, nurse, X-ray technician, etc…
8. Trade Unions: Contact state trade union if state is known or national trade union for type of work such as electrician, plumber, etc.
9. Contact high school, trade school, or college of absent parent. They may have a current address. They may also be the source of date of
birth and/or social security number.
10. The following are military locator phone numbers for active personnel or those receiving benefits:
Army: (317) 542-4211 Coast Guard – (202) 426-8898
Navy: (302) 694-3155
Air Force: (512) 652-5774
Marines: (202) 694-1624
Utilization of IV-D Services for Location of Absent Parent
The IV-D program is required by federal law to assist you whether or not you receive welfare benefits. The IV-D agency is usually located at your
local welfare offices. These services are provided through the IV-D program.
PLS (Parent Locator Service) will check absent parent’s social security number with IRS records, Social Security records and Department of Defense records
Credit Bureau check provides address, employers, credit history
Veterans Administration records provide address, possible employer and/or benefits received
Criminal records: Check with local law enforcement agencies for addresses from criminal records, traffic tickets, etc…
IRS Tax Form 1099 provides asset information, bank accounts, businesses owned, etc…
State tax office provides address/employer
Bureau of Vital Statistics provides information used to find a social security number
IRS records also provide information about social security number
Food Stamp, Housing Authority, Probation Department can provide address/employer
INVESTIGATIVE METHODS TO DETERMINE ASSETS
Finding out the income and property owned by a non-payor is essential to successful child support enforcement. It is especially important if the non-payor is self-employed or earns money under-the-table.
Fill in the following information as completely as possible:
1. Absent parent’s current employer, salary, pay periods
2. Commissions and bonuses received
3. Deductions from pay such as savings plans, credit union accounts, etc…
4. Property owned by absent parent: check with county deed office.
5. Rent received
6. Bank accounts, name, address, account number
7. Stock owned
8. Lawsuit (s) absent parent has pending that will produce income such as inheritance, personal injury, work related claims
9. Motor Vehicles, boats, motorcycles, etc., owned by absent parent: check with the State Department of Motor Vehicles for license number
10. Private, military or government benefits received such as pension, disability, etc.
11. Personal property such as jewelry, art collections or coin collections
12. Professional licenses owned by absent parent. (Truck drivers must carry special licenses from the Interstate Commerce Commission. These can be attached
since a bond must be posted with the insurance company holding the licensing bond.
Other Methods to Determine Assets of Absent Parents
1. Deposition/Discovery: absent parent is questioned under oath by your attorney or IV-D attorney
2. Information from employers: can be obtained voluntarily by attorney from the company, by deposition of company representative or you. Your attorney can
subpoena the employer for a court hearing.
3. Credit Bureau check can determine assets. This can be done by the IV-D attorney or a private attorney.
4. Bank records, tax returns and financial records of a company can be subpoenaed into court.
5. IV-D agency can check federal tax Form 1099 to determine assets such as stocks, bonds and interest. You can obtain a judgement issued by the court.
However, a judgement will only provide child support payment if it’s executed.
You can execute a judgement, only if non-payor has assets such as:
1. Property (house, land)
2. Car (usually valued at $1,000 or more)
3. Boat, motorcycle, etc.
4. Jewelry, art work, etc.
5. Bank accounts, stocks, bonds, Certificates of Deposit (CD’s), IRA’s, etc.
6. Commissions, bonuses, vacation pay.
Usually, if not always, you will need an attorney to execute a judgement since it is a very technical legal process. Sometimes attorneys will take a case on contingency
basis such as 20-30% of what you collect. IV-D attorneys can also execute judgements in some states.
Other assets to check:
1. Unemployment Compensation is attachable by local IV-D agency
2. Worker’s Compensation is attachable in some states
3. Social Security benefits received by an absent parent may mean your child is eligible for benefits; Check with your local social security office
4. Military benefits are attachable (contact ACES for military benefit attachment packet)
5. V. A. Benefits received by an absent parent may provide an allotment for the child. There is also a current Supreme Court case to determine if they can be
6. Trust income is attachable.
7. Inheritance is attachable.
Please remember you must be persistent with your investigation to be successful. Many children have received the support they deserve only after the custodial parent
got enough information to provide evidence in court that the non-payor truly did have assets!