Upon divorce, however, a child support order determines the financial obligation of each parent when it comes to school expenses, basic necessities, healthcare and other needs. Although providing child support is usually the primary responsibility of the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent has an obligation as well to financially provide for the child, similar to custody and visitation rights under California family law.
Failure to pay child support arrears may have certain consequences in California. Some programs are available to help parents who fall behind through no fault of their own without imposing the penalties normally incurred for not paying child support.
One of those programs is the "Compromise of Arrears Program" for California parents. COAP is designed to help non-custodial parents reduce their past-due child support debt owed to the government. A parent would owe child support to the government when the parent's child is on a public assistance program, and the parent's child support is therefore re-directed to the state.
If a parent qualifies for the COAP, he or she may offer a compromise payment to the state that is less than what they actually owe in child support arrears. A computer program helps identify the amount of repayment required and the amount of debt to be reduced from the arrears. The amount of reduction and interest would be based upon the parent's current assets and income.
A parent eligible for COAP is not relieved of his or her child support obligation. The child support program cannot forgive the entire debt, but it can reduce the amount of arrears that should be paid to the state instead. It does not modify the current child support order or compromise unpaid spousal support.
Source: Childsup.Ca.gov, "Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP)," Accessed on Feb. 24, 2015