Child Support

When parents live together, supporting their children financially is something that they do naturally. But when parents divorce or no longer share a household, it is usually necessary to have a child support order in place. Whether you expect to receive child support or to pay it, you may be concerned about what it will mean for you and your children financially. Will the court award a child support amount that is fair? What happens if the parent who is supposed to pay support doesn’t make payments or is under-employed? What happens if a parent’s financial situation changes? Child support encompasses two of the most important issues in family law: children and finances. Our skilled child support attorney team is committed to making sure your children get the support they are entitled to, and that you have a child support order that is fair and appropriate.

Understanding California Child Support

A parent may be ordered to pay child support in a number of circumstances, including in a divorce, separation, or establishment of parentage when parents are unmarried. Child support payments typically end when a child turns eighteen, but may continue until the age of nineteen if the child is still in high school full-time, living at home, and not self-supporting. In some cases, child support for adult disabled children is also a possibility.

In California, child support is determined by a formula called the California Child Support Guideline. The Guideline takes into account the parents’ income from work or other sources; how much time the children spend with each parent; the cost of health insurance and each parent’s contribution to uninsured health expenses; each parent’s contribution to daycare costs; whether either parent supports a child from another relationship; and other factors.

Parents can agree on an amount of child support that is greater or less than the guideline amounts, but the agreement must meet certain criteria and must be approved by a judge. If the court determines the child support award, the award will be calculated based on the Guideline; deviations from the Guideline calculations are rare and require skilled argument. Child support payments are often made by income withholding from the paycheck of the party who owes support.

Because the amount of child support dictated by the Guideline is presumed to be correct, it is critically important to use accurate data in the calculations. If there is a substantial change in circumstances after an order is entered (for instance, if one parent loses a job or child custody is changed), the order may be modified at the request of one party. However, if the amount of child support is adjusted, the adjustment will only be retroactive to the date the motion for modification was filed (some exceptions apply). If you can’t meet your child support obligations because of a loss of income, you should work with a skilled child support attorney to file a motion to request a modification as soon as possible for that reason.

When a parent fails to pay child support, interest is added to the past-due amount (arrears) at the rate of ten percent per year. Interest continues to accrue until arrears are paid in full. Continued failure to pay child support can result in loss of a tax refund, liens on property, loss of driver’s license or hunting or boating licenses, revocation of a passport, or even jail time.

How We Can Help

Whether you need to receive child support or have to pay it, we advocate for fair and reasonable child support orders. We have extensive experience with the California Child Support Guideline and understand what data needs to be included to arrive at an accurate calculation.

If you prefer to reach an agreement with the other parent regarding child support, we educate you about your options, rights, and obligations so that you have all the information you need to make a decision, including what child support would have been under a Guideline calculation.

As experienced litigators, we are also prepared to advocate for you in court on issues related to child support, including modification or enforcement of child support orders. We understand that child support issues are challenging, and we are committed to working on your behalf. Please contact Bednarczyk & Valerio to learn more about how our child support attorney team can help you.