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
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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
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
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.
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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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