Child Support

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Child Support

Given the cost of living in Southern California, establishing a proper amount of child support is important for bother parents. If you are seeking to establish child support or defend against a support action, call us today to discuss your case.

Duty To Support Minors
In California, both parents have equal responsibility for the support of their minor child “in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.” The law requires parents to provide for their offspring up until the child reaches 19 years of age, but courts will enforce an agreement between the mother and the father for continued support of an adult child. If the child is incapacitated, there is no maximum-age ceiling limiting the parents’ duty. Occasionally, a judge may specify some future occurrence when the payments shall terminate.

Should the state, some governmental or private institution, or an individual volunteer take on the care for the child, they might be able to recover the cost from the parent. If the court orders child support payments, and the county incurs costs and attorney fees while enforcing such order, these fees and costs are also chargeable to the parent. In California, registered domestic partners have the same responsibilities towards their children as a married couple does.

Ability To Contribute
Each parent contributes according to his ability. The authorities usually consider the duty towards his child fully satisfied with respect to the custodial parent. To improve children’s standard of living, and to eliminate disparity between the divorced or separated parents’ households, the court can require additional contribution for this purpose. On the other hand, a parent can claim a deduction for hardship in limited circumstances, such as catastrophic uninsured loss.

The Math Behind Child Support

California enacted the following formula for calculation of child support:

CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]

Statewide Uniform Guideline, which originated the computation, also delivers a detailed explanation: CS stands for the child support, the amount to be determined, or the x one might recall from high school algebraic equations. H% is the percentage of time the when the high earner has the primary responsibility for the children. “Primary responsibility” is a term defined by the courts in case law. So, for instance, school time can be included or excluded depending on who the primary caretaker is, or on who is paying the tuition.

K is a fraction, representing the allocation of income by both parents, in total, towards child support. TN is the total net monthly disposable income of both parents, and finally, HN is the high earner’s net monthly disposable income. The net disposable income is calculated by deducting taxes and costs like retirement contributions, disability and health insurance, or mandatory union dues from the gross income. The court may adjust the result, if it believes it does not accurately represent the potential future earnings, for example.

It is important to note that result of this calculation constitutes a rebuttable presumption as to what the support should be. The court can issue an order for divergent child support amount, for example, if the high earner’s income were so extraordinary, that the amount under the guideline “would exceed the needs of the children.”

While Proceedings Are Pending
If child support is the subject of dispute between the parents, a court can make a temporary order for the payment of support. Should the parents reconcile and resume living together in one household, such temporary order loses its effect.
California courts can also issue an expedited support order. Whenever a court is reviewing an application for such order, the obligated parent, called upon to provide child support, is entitled to a hearing. Normally, an expedited support order becomes valid 30 days after the service of all required documents on the obligated parent. The court can also make the order effective retroactively, as of the date of the application filing.
If the income of the obligated parent is unknown, instead of using the calculation from the guideline, the judge can order the parent to pay the minimum defined in the state’s welfare laws. The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act sets forth the “minimum basic standards of adequate care” in dollar amounts, starting at $341.

Modification
Generally, courts can modify or terminate child support orders at any time, although some limitations exist. A simplified process is available to parents seeking modification or termination of child support. California Courts website provides detailed instructions on how to proceed, so that parents who cannot afford legal assistance, can apply for modification representing themselves.

While the formula is complex, there are online tools to help you calculate support. The standard software used by family law attorneys is the “Dissomaster.” The State of California government site also offers this calculator free of charge.During a contested support hearing, you must bring copies of all the supporting documents you relied on to determine your income. Examples of those documents are: (1) Pay Stubs; (2)W-2 Forms; (3) Tax Returns, (4) Income and Expense Declarations, and any other documents that will help the court determine your income.

If you are going through a divorce, you should know that the court has the authority to make temporary child support orders during a divorce proceeding. Further, a court may bifurcate (separate) the issue of support and proceed with that first if necessary. If you’re worried that your children are not receiving the proper support, contact us immediately so that we can evaluate your case.

Child-support orders are not final. If you’ve had a change in circumstances, or a change in custody, you can seek a modification of child support. Our family law and divorce attorneys are highly-experienced in both getting support reduced or increased, depending on the circumstances. If you are seeing to modify child support, call us today to discuss the facts of your case.