A Practical Guide to Child Support

A quick overview of the practical components of child support in California

November 17, 2020

Going through divorce proceedings can leave even the most stable person emotionally drained and exhausted. Unfortunately, this can obscure the issues and the ultimate outcome. Obtaining the services of a child support lawyer Orange County, who has the best interest of you and your children in mind, can ensure you obtain the child support you’re entitled to.

Don’t let hindsight be 20/20 and affect the long-term financial well-being of your children.

Here’s what you need to know about child support laws in California.

How Is the Amount of Child Support Determined?

Each state has specific guidelines, a formula that determines how much a parent is mandated to pay for child support. These guidelines, however, are not absolute, and judges can, under certain circumstances, depart from these specifications.

In California, both parents are responsible for supporting their children. The final number is determined by a number of factors including the time each parent spends with the child, both parents’ income, as well as their net disposable income.

The California Child Support Services provides an online Guideline Calculator that provides an estimate of the amount of child support that will be ordered.

In most cases, the greater the difference between earnings, and the more time the parent who earns less spends with the child, the greater the amount of child support.

Do Judges Award Child Support Based Solely on the Formula?

While the child support formula provided by the state is presumed to be the correct amount, there are several stipulations that enable a judge to award higher or lesser amounts.

A few of these conditions include the following:

  • The child has special needs.
  • The parent paying child support has an unusually high income, and the number presented by the formula is more than the child requires.
  • The children spend different amounts of time with each parent.
  • The children spend the same amount of time with each parent, but one pays a higher percentage of their income toward housing.
  • The higher-earning parent may be required to pay a higher percentage of the child care costs as well as the health care costs.

Needless to say, the child support (CS) formula, which reads (CS) = K (HN- (H%) (TN)), is complicated and somewhat arbitrary. Unless parents have determined their child support payments without the court’s interference, a child support lawyer Orange County is highly recommended.

What if the Parent’s Share Custody?

When parents share joint legal custody, this simply means that they share in the responsibility for their child and that both can make decisions concerning their child’s upbringing,

Joint physical custody, on the other hand, refers to a child spending a substantial amount of time with each parent. In this instance, should both parents have close to equal incomes, neither parent may be required to pay child support.

However, in casese where one parent has a higher income, they will probably be required to pay child support, but, because of joint custody, this amount may be less than the guidelines suggest.  

What Can You Do If a Parent Is Not Paying Child Support?

If the child support is a verbal agreement that your ex does not want to put it into writing, you will need to file an action for child support. A child support lawyer Orange County can file a petition on your behalf.

If the child support has been ordered by the court, the parent behind in payments can be held in contempt of court. In this instance, you or your lawyer must file a motion for contempt.

If held in contempt, the delinquent parent may be sent to jail until they can pay a specific amount of past-due child support. Court’s can also order the money be collected via bank account garnishments, withholding wages, or selling of the delinquent parent’s property.

Some states have a statute of limitations. In California, you have three years, from the date the delinquent parent failed to pay their ordered child support, to file.

A parent can claim the inability to pay and, if proven, will not be held in contempt. They may, however, end up losing their license and negatively impact their credit score if they do not get caught up on child support.

Even though a marriage ended in divorce, some parents find it difficult to go to court in an attempt to make the delinquent parent pay back support. In these cases, obtaining the services of a child support lawyer Orange County is the best option. Though it may be uncomfortable, protecting your children’s best interests is at the heart of the matter.

Can You Modify Child Support Payments Once Court Ordered?

Parents who can show that there has been a change of circumstance since the payments were ordered, they have grounds for a reduction or increase in the amount of support.  These changes include an increase or decrease in income, or the amount of time one parent spends with their children.

Other reasons a judge may agree to the request include incarceration of one parent, one parent had another child from a different relationship, or the child’s needs have changed.

If the parents chose to sign an approved child support agreement that was below the amount deemed by the guidelines, they do not need to prove a change in circumstances in order to request a modification.

However, if your partner does not agree to the requested changes, you or a child support lawyer Orange County must file a motion with the court asking for a modification.

What Can a Child Support Lawyer Orange County Do for You?

As certified divorce mediators, board-certified family law specialists, and experienced child custody attorneys, the Law Firm of Hollie A. Lemkin has helped hundreds of parents get the financial support they need to ensure their children’s needs are met.

Our experienced, compassionate lawyers will assess your case, file the necessary documents, calculate the expected payments, and help with any modification or collection issues.

It’s important to have someone on your side that thoroughly understands the intricacies of child support laws and regulations.  

Call today to speak with Hollie A. Lemkin to discuss your questions & issues!

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