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(NOTE: Obligor is the legal term for someone who owes money to another person. The 10 tips listed below apply to child support, whether the parents were married or not. They also apply to spousal support obligations.)

.: Be sure that you, your attorney, or the court has put your support order in writing, usually a Judgment or an Order. Without a court order, you don't have the right to use legal channels to collect your past-due support. And, in many cases, a court can only order a support obligation to start from the date certain papers are filed. Therefore, use a qualified attorney, paralegal, government agency or other method to obtain your court order as soon as possible.

.: Have a certified copy of your support order recorded in any county where you believe the Obligor lives, owns real estate, or may own real estate in the future. In California, this will create a real property “lien” which may help you secure your debt against the Obligor’s real estate.

.: Keep complete records of all payments made and missed by the Obligor. A copy of each check with a notation as to when it was received is very helpful. Avoid cash, if possible. Make notes about all conversations you have with the Obligor regarding the support obligation, especially when you request payment. Note any witnesses that overheard or witnessed your conversation.

.: NEVER enter into any oral agreements regarding your support obligation. If you do enter into an agreement, make sure it’s in writing and only after first consulting with an attorney.

.: Keep copies of all letters (with their envelopes) that you have sent to, or received from, the Obligor or their attorney. When mailing letters to the Obligor, send them certified mail with a return receipt requested so that you have proof of the letter’s receipt. Keep all returned mail.

.: NEVER deny visitation of your child to the Obligor. If a non-custodial parent has a court order that entitles them to visit their child, the denial of that right could be a defense for not paying the support obligation. If you have a concern as to the health or safety of your child, immediately consult with an attorney.

.: Stay in touch with the Obligor, his friends and relatives. Collection is difficult when little or nothing is known about the Obligor. Try to remain aware of where the Obligor works, lives, banks, as well as his hobbies, his vehicles, his general lifestyle, his vacations, etc.

.: Stay informed if the Obligor is self-employed; try to discover how his business operates. Who are his repeat clients? Does the business operate as a partnership, a corporation or as a sole proprietor? How and where does he get new business? Who are his major suppliers?

.: Support debts may be enforced against a variety of income and assets. Many common, but less obvious assets include, lawsuit settlements, lottery winnings, unemployment, pension plans, cash value of life insurance policies, country club memberships, inheritances, and many more, so remember…

.: DON’T GIVE UP! In California, Support obligations are enforceable until PAID IN FULL. You are also entitled to 10% simple interest on every support installment that is not paid. And, you may be entitled to penalties and attorney fees! However, you must keep trying and remain diligent. New laws are being introduced and new cases are being decided which strengthen your ability to enforce your court order for support. You deserve your court ordered support.


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