Parents who stop living together need to think about how they will continue to support their child who will be living between two homes. California child support law requires both parents to support their children financially according to their financial circumstances. If you need help in getting the child support your child or children are entitled to, please schedule a free phone consultation so we can discuss your needs.
Child support is often paid by the parent who has the child a smaller percentage of time. The purpose of child support 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. They need more money to make ends meet and see child support as an answer to their problem. 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 CHILD CUSTODY AND CHILD SUPPORT ARE CONNECTED
The amount of child support ordered 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 child support to 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 child support problems are not something that can be solved in pro per 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 child 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 child 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 child custody and child support through a paternity case.
d. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can request court ordered child 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. It is important to file paperwork with the court as soon as you realize that you will need child support from the other parent. The longer you wait to file, the longer it will take before you start receiving support.
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 child support, you cannot stop paying child support 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 in the child support order immediately. You cannot stop or reduce your child support 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.
Do not ignore your child support duties. In this every increasing age of lack of privacy and increased computer assisted programs, it will catch up with you. When it does you may end up having to pay long overdue child support (also called arrears) for many years after your child has become an adult.