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.: Is the CENTER a public agency?

The CENTER, founded in 1979, is a private law firm devoted to the collection of past-due child and spousal support. We are neither a government entity nor a mere collection agency.

.: Do you also collect alimony or spousal support?

Yes. Although non-payment of child support has received more attention from the courts and media, the procedures for collecting past-due alimony—and the hardships caused by non-payment—are very similar. We also collect other Family Law related debts such as Property Divisions and Attorney Fee Orders.

.: Does it matter how long ago I was divorced ... How far past due the payments are ... or, If my children are now adults?

Divorce judgments usually require child support to be paid as long as the child is a minor and not married or emancipated. But past-due support arrearages is an obligation owed to you, the custodial parent, and may be collected even after your children are grown and often after many years have passed. Although each case is different, many of our clients have collected payments that were more than 20 years past due.


.: Can you help me even if I don't live in California? What if my support order is from another state?

The CENTER is located in California, but we represent clients from all over the United States, and foreign countries as well. And your court order for support can come from any state, or even from many foreign countries.

.: What if I was not married to the father of my child?

Child support orders are enforceable whether they are from a divorce judgment or a paternity action. However, you must have a court order for support. If you do not have an order, you cannot collect arrearages. To get an order establishing paternity and setting an amount for support, contact the District Attorney, or other community support organizations that provide this service on a free or low cost basis.

.: How are you paid for your services?

There is no charge or obligation to have the CENTER evaluate your case. If we offer to accept your case and you want to proceed, there will be a $35 processing fee. Thereafter, our fees are on a percentage and contingency basis. That means that until we recover money on your behalf, there is no fee for our services. When we do recover funds, our usual fee is one-third (1/3) of the money we collect for you, after we collect it!

.: Does it matter where my ex lives?

Not necessarily. If your ex has income or assets in California, we can probably help regardless of where your ex lives. Many times, even assets and income in other states are reachable by our California attorneys.

.: Am I responsible for costs?

Although we may advance court costs, you are responsible for paying the actual costs we must pay to process your case. This is usually less than $100, covering court filing fees, sheriff's service fees, copies of court records, investigation charges, long distance telephone charges, parking, etc. We will never exceed $100 without your consent. Excess costs would normally occur in the case of more expensive seizures such as real estate or automobiles.


.: Can I collect interest on my support judgment?

Yes. Support judgments accrue interest at the legal rate allowed in each state. In California, since 1983, arrearages accrue interest at 10% per year. Such interest can significantly increase the amount of arrearages to be collected from your ex. In many instances, the amount of interest that accrues could exceed the amount of principal that is owed.

.: What if my ex is not working or receiving a pension or has no assets?

It is necessary that your ex have some income or property from which we can collect. And even then, there is no guarantee of recovery. But unless you are absolutely sure there are no income or assets from which we can recover, it makes good sense to proceed. Remember, your fee is only a percentage of the money we actually collect. And you never know what the CENTER may discover.

.: What if I have already filed with the district attorney?

Many clients come to the CENTER after finding the services of the public enforcement agencies too slow and frustrating. We work with these agencies and recognize their importance—especially in welfare cases. In many cases, the CENTER will concentrate on collecting the past-due money owed to you, and the D.A. will collect your current support. In some cases, the CENTER or the D.A. will ask you to choose who will represent you in the collection of your support. This varies on a case by case basis.  Unlike collection agencies, the CENTER will never ask you for a fee on money already being collected by any government agency.

.: What if I have received welfare?

If you are currently receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), formerly AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependant Children), or have done so since your court order for support was issued, you have by law assigned your right to collect certain arrearages to the State and to the County from which you received aid. However, the rules regarding TANF and AFDC are both complicated and changing. An analysis of your particular case will be necessary in order to determine whether the CENTER can be of assistance.

.: If you collect my past-due support, what about my future payments? Will I have to pay the same percentage for collecting them, too?

No. Our agreement with you is only for the collection of past-due support. We work to get your ex up to date on payments, so that in the future you can directly receive 100% of your court ordered support payments. If, at your request, we also collect your current support, we  charge only a nominal fee for processing and monitoring current support payments, presently $5.00 per check. Our experience shows that once a debtor has paid his past-due support, they will remain current on the remainder of the obligation.

.: Will I have to go to court?

It varies. With some exceptions, our clients are not usually required to appear personally in court.  Our legal services include drafting declarations, on your behalf, and in lieu of your appearance at court.  Sometimes, the judge will want to hear from you, and in those cases, you will have plenty of notice.  In some instances, you can even appear by telephone!

.: I would like the CENTER to consider representing me in the collection of the money owed. What is the next step?

It's simple: just click here and complete the easy 1 page on-line form. Or, you may simply phone us.



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