In California, both parents are expected to contribute to the costs of raising a child. California’s child support laws specifically provide that parents’ first and principal obligations are to support their minor children according to the parents’ circumstances and stations in life. Child support is calculated based on suggested state guidelines and other case-specific factors examined by the court.
If you are facing a child support matter in California, it is important to understand how child support is determined, alternative methods for reaching child support agreements, and how to enforce and modify agreements when necessary. Attorney Bruce A. Mandel handles child support and other family law matters in California. He knows that child support allocation directly impacts your child’s well-being and your financial stability.
Child Support Guidelines
California’s child support guideline calculations are based on the following:
- Each parent’s income
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent
- The living standards between the two households.
The guidelines are designed to minimize any living standard disparities between the parents and to make sure that the child’s needs are met. The law specifically provides that support allocations should reflect the high costs associated with raising children in California.
The guidelines presume that the parent with primary physical parenting time contributes a significant portion of his or her resources to raising the child. This presumption generally increases the amount of support to be paid by the parent with less physical parenting time. Parents may raise objections to this and other guideline presumptions with the court, however.
In general, courts are to follow the guidelines, but there may be special circumstances where the amount of support ordered differs from the guidelines. Although, it is important to note that courts will rarely order support that is less than the amount calculated by the guidelines. For example, courts may adjust child support calculations for children with special needs that require additional support.
Sometimes one parent chooses not to work or chooses to work in a low paying job to increase the child support he or she receives under the guidelines. The court may consider the other parent’s objections and adjust the child support amount accordingly. If you and your child’s other parent agree to support terms, courts will approve of the agreement so long as the judge determines that it is in your child’s best interests.
Trials And Alternative Dispute Resolution
If you and your child’s other parent can reach an agreement, you can avoid a child support trial. Even in contentious cases, parents may be able to find terms that are acceptable to both parties. Mediation and other types of alternative dispute resolution can be helpful in negotiating child custody and child support terms.
If you cannot reach an agreement, your child support case will go to trial in a California court. Your attorney will argue your case to the judge and provide evidence that supports your position. Your child’s other parent will also be given the same opportunity to provide evidence that supports his or her argument. Ultimately it will be up to a judge to determine the contested child support terms.
Child Support Enforcement
When a parent does not pay child support obligations, there are steep legal penalties. The child support enforcement process might require the state’s involvement in collection matters. Penalties for late and missed child support payments include an interest payment based on the unpaid amount, a penalty payment based on the outstanding amount, wage garnishment, and other consequences.
Child Support Modification
Life happens, and family circumstances change. These changes can impact child support obligations. For example, a parent gets remarried, has another child, loses a job, or secures a significant increase in income. Children’s needs sometimes change as well, such as an increase in activities and expenses or an illness that causes a major increase in medical bills. When financial circumstances change, either parent may seek to modify the child support agreement.
Parents may agree to a support modification so long as the court approves it. If they disagree, the court will examine the reasons for the modification request and hear both parties’ arguments. After hearing from each side, the court will grant the modification to change the child support obligation or refuse the modification request keeping the original child support order in place.
California Child Support Attorney
California child support attorney Bruce A. Mandel represents parents in child support and custody cases. Contact our office at 424-250-9130 or click here to schedule a no-cost and no-obligation consultation. We will go over your case and answer your questions about the child support process in California. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about our law firm and California family law matters.