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Child support is often paid by the parent who has the child a smaller percentage of time. The purpose is to help pay for the child’s living expenses (roof over their head, food in their stomach, clothing and healthcare). It is always in the child’s best interest when both parents are providing support consistent with their financial ability.
Problems often start when one parent realizes the cost of living separately is more than they expected. The judge doesn’t care too much about your budget and cost of living. The formula the judge uses is going to focus mostly on how much you earn or are capable of earning and then redistributing income between the parents to help cover the costs associated with a child living in two households.
HOW CUSTODY AND SUPPORT ARE CONNECTED
The amount a parent is ordered to pay by the court is related to the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The judge will determine California Guideline Child Support based on a complex formula that also uses the parents timeshare with the child and the earning ability of the parents.
In a typical scenario, one parent has a higher income and the other is a lower (or no) income parent. The low earning parent is frequently the parent who spends the majority of time with the child’s daily needs for eating, dressing, bathing, teaching, playing, homework, etc. The high earning parent tends to spend time with the child during sports or extra-curricular activities and weekends. The higher income parent is usually ordered to pay the lower income parent. The higher income parent may feel it is unfair or doesn’t like the way the lower income parent spends money. The higher income parent may start a custody battle to increase their timeshare so they pay less to the lower income parent. In some cases the change of timeshare is not in the best interest of the child. These court battles are very expensive, time consuming and frequently feels like fighting over money rather than taking care of the child’s best interests.
Depending on your particular circumstances, it may make more financial sense for me to provide unbundled legal help and advice you need without costly full legal representation. If your legal problems are not something that can be solved with unbundled legal help, I will be at your disposal and ready to provide full legal representation.
HOW DO I GET CHILD SUPPORT?
If the other parent is not willing to financially support their child adequately, there are a number of ways to get support ordered in California family courts.
1. IF NO CASE HAS BEEN FILED: If neither of you have filed a family law or paternity case, then you can start a case to get child support.
a. If married or registered domestic partners you can:
(1) File a request for child custody and support, even if you don’t want to get divorced.
(2) File for divorce, legal separation or annulment and you can get temporary support while waiting to get a judgment and permanent child support orders.
b. Whether married or not, either parent can ask the local child support agency to open a child support case. You do not need a lawyer to do this.
c. If never married, nor registered domestic partners with the child’s other parent, you can request custody and support through a paternity case.
d. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can request court ordered support from the abusive parent in the domestic violence restraining order.
2. IF A CASE HAS BEEN FILED: If a family law, paternity or domestic violence case has been filed, then you need to file the proper forms to ask the court to make child custody and support orders. It usually takes 3-6 weeks before a temporary child support order will be made, and may take longer depending on the circumstances. The child support will not go back to a time before the paperwork was filed with the court.
HOW CAN I LOWER OR STOP CHILD SUPPORT?
The short answer is you cannot lower or stop paying child support until the court orders that you pay less or stop. If you have been ordered to pay, you cannot stop paying because the other parent will not let you see your child, or you don’t like the way the other parent handles money. You owe a legal duty to financially support your child – period.
If you have lost your job, got a significant reduction in work hours, were injured and are off work for a period of time, it is very important that you file for a change order immediately. You cannot stop or reduce your payment without a court order allowing you to do so. If you don’t pay the court ordered child support the court has many ways to make it hard on you (as incentive to stay current). The court can order the suspension of your driver’s license or professional license, you could be ordered to pay a lot of money in fines, and if you will not pay the fines, you may end up in jail.
Let me help you find your best legal options!