Understanding What California Laws Say About Child Support
Both parents should support a child or children, according to California laws. The court does not have discretion in determining child support amounts, but rather, calculates and makes an order for “guideline child support.” The state uses a complex formula to calculate how much a parent may need to pay to the other. Determining factors include the following:
- Each parent’s monthly income, including interest, dividends and self-employment
- How many children need support
- Which parent has primary custody, if applicable
- How much time the children spend with the other parent
The parents are free to make an agreement as to the amount of support one parent is to pay the other parent and, in most cases, the court will accept this agreement even if it’s different from what the guidelines-based support would determine. Child support is payable until a child reaches the age of 19, reaches the age of 18 and is no longer a full-time high school student, dies, marries or becomes emancipated.
At The Law Offices of Ronda A. Middleton in Fullerton, we help ensure that our clients understand their respective rights and obligations. This includes helping clients gather accurate information to be used to determining a correct child support amount. With all family law matters, it is important to consult with an attorney about the specific facts in your case. Ronda A. Middleton is ready to protect your rights and best interests.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support
It is important that the support you pay or receive accurately reflects the needs and circumstances of your individual situation. Contact our family law attorney for answers to your questions, such as the following.
What if one parent earns less than they are capable of?
The family law court will estimate how much income a parent can earn, even if the parent does not work. Vocational experts can help evaluate whether a parent is earning less than they could be making.
What about irregular income?
When income is seasonal or fluctuating, including occasional bonuses or overtime pay, the court may order income averaging over time and/or sharing of a percentage of occasional income.
What if either parent remarries or has a new domestic partner?
Usually, the court does not consider the income of a parent’s “new mate” unless not including it would create a hardship for the child.
How does the court assign responsibility for expenses such as health insurance, private school tuition and travel costs?
When calculating child support, the court takes into account whether one parent or both, will pay medical insurance premiums, private school tuition, travel costs if the parents live in different cities and other discretionary items.
What about child care costs?
The court considers child care, which is added to the guideline amount, and it is usually split equally between the parties.
Who will pay for college?
The parties may agree on how to share the costs of college for a child, but a court has no jurisdiction to order a parent to contribute to a child’s college education. However, if the parties make an agreement regarding the matter, a court can enforce that agreement.
Speak With Our Child Support Attorney
If you need to establish child support or find yourself unable to pay child support as ordered because of unemployment, disability or another reason, seek legal counsel. In addition to helping establish fair child support, Ronda A. Middleton assists clients with child support enforcement, modifications and challenges.