San Diego Child Support Lawyer
- How child support protects the best interests of your children
- How is child support calculated in California?
- How is child support collected?
- Modifying child support
- What to consider in a child support case
- Financial tips
Child Support: The Protection of Your Children’s Best Interests
All parents, whether they are married or not, must contribute to the support of their children. This is a law and not something that can be worked around due to an unmarried status or even due to unemployment or other financial difficulties. Child support cannot be enforceable unless a court order is placed for the support. The custodial parent can request that the non-custodial parent be ordered to pay child support. Child support is usually paid until the child is 18.
When both parents cannot come to a private agreement on child support, the court will decide for the parents. If the parents can come to agreement to child support without dispute, they will not have to go through the court and can privately come to an agreement. They can simply have a written agreement drafted.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
If you are going through a divorce in San Diego or California, you’ll find that the quality of life for you and your children will be affected by what the court determines when it comes to child support obligations. However, the court cannot choose an arbitrary number. There are calculations that have to be made to determine who pays child support and how much. A San Diego family law attorney can be a great advocate in these determinations.
In California, child support takes into account each parent’s income, the number of children who are being supported, and the percentage of parenting time the paying parent is assigned in the divorce or paternity judgment. In other words, the person who has the children most of the time will generally pay less or not pay anything whereas the parent who has the children less will be asked to contribute more. Based on who gets primary custody of the children, the court can make a determination as to the right amount to be paid between parents.
How Is Child Support Collected?
The preferred method of collecting child support is income withholding. This is when the non-custodial parent has the payment automatically deducted from his or her paycheck. When the situation arises when a parent is not making the child support payment, you may have to enforce child support payments orders. Although income withholding is preferred and the common way of collecting child support, there are other methods to collect child support. These methods include garnishing bank accounts; establishing liens against real estate and personal property; intercepting tax refunds, lottery winnings, unemployment funds; and enforcement by court. You can ask your child support lawyer how to establish an order for income withholding.
Child Support Modification
Sometimes when circumstances change for the parents, it may be a valid reason to ask for child support modification. Income change (decrease or increase) is a common reason for initiating a modification. You may ask a family court judge to review your existing order and see if they will modify your child support order. Having a child support lawyer help you bypass the judge and come to an agreement privately is the most favorable.
Court systems often provide some free assistance with child support forms, but consulting a lawyer is a much better choice. You want to make sure you and your children receive what is fair and just, and an attorney on your side can help ensure that there is the best possible outcome for your particular case. Learning about what goes into figuring child support payments can better prepare you to work with your divorce attorney, as you’ll have a clearer idea of what the court will be looking for and what it will use as the basis for its decision.
Child Support Case: What to Consider
There’s more to consider than just the amount of money you’ll get in your child support case, as well. Often, child support issues are tied to child custody, spousal support (such as alimony), and family law mediation to work out problems that can be plaguing a couple that is divorcing or splitting up after having children together.
The San Diego divorce lawyers at Renkin & Associates will assist our clients with the following issues:
- Child support calculations, so you know how much money to expect
- Income imputation issues, to ensure everyone is providing fair and accurate financial information
- Work effort orders, so payment of child support can continue
- Employment evaluations to make sure payments are fair and equitable
- Income determination if there are concerns about the child support amount being paid
- Child support modification when one or the other party experiences a change in circumstances
Financial Tips From a Child Support Attorney
They say that numbers don’t lie, but the numbers can be deceiving. In a divorce case the outcome is often based on the skill of your attorney. Before you go to court, there are some things you should be aware of to prepare.
- Don’t inflate commissions – If you are paid commissions, don’t inflate your earnings potential. It is tempting to let your ex know that you are, or can, do well financially, but inflating these numbers will simply harm you in a child support situation.
- Gather evidence -If you think that your spouse should be paying more or receiving less child support, you should have a reason for thinking that. Gather whatever evidence you can and bring it with you while meeting your lawyer. As a child support attorney, we need to review whatever you have in order to determine to prepare your case. Your ex is not likely to voluntarily give over information, and if we don’t ask for the right information, we won’t have what we need to build your case.
- Expenses – Keep track of your expenses as they relate to the children. If you think that you need more child support to cover them, you need to be able to prove this. You also need to explain to the court what has changed to make an increase in child support necessary.
Understanding Child Support
Q: How is child support calculated?
A: In California, child support is calculated based on California Child Support Guidelines. For fathers who are currently going through a divorce, it’s possible to look at the California Guideline Child Support Calculator to estimate the amount of support that may be ordered in your particular case. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the judge will determine the final amount of any child support order. In other words, the guidelines are simply those—guidelines.
Child support payments will be based on your monthly income and the amount of time you spend caring for your child or children. In making the final decision, the court will consider any type of income you have, including your wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, earnings from self-employment, interest on assets, dividends, rental income from rental property, Social Security payments or pensions, and any payments owed to you (such as prize winnings). Estimating child support payments can be complicated, and it’s important to hire a San Diego divorce lawyer who can assist you.
Q: My ex-spouse recently remarried. Will I be able to lower the amount of child support I pay based on the income of her new spouse?
A: In most cases, the answer is no. Under section 4057 of the California Family Code, the income of a new spouse will only come into play if there is an extreme hardship. What constitutes an extreme hardship? The definition isn’t a hard and fast one, and the judge will make the final decision. Generally speaking, a judge will only find an extreme hardship in cases where the receiving spouse simply quits working to rely on a new spouse’s income.
A: While no payment order will change automatically, the court can change orders if there is a change in circumstances. In some cases, the change in a custodial parent’s earnings, a change in custody, or a change in the amount of time you spend with your children can all be reasons that the court could approve a new order.
Changing a child support order can be a complicated matter. You should be sure to speak with an experienced California family lawyer before seeking a substantial change to your child support order.
Q: I would prefer to settle child support matters outside of court. Is it possible to avoid going to court to handle child support?
A: Yes. If both you and your spouse sign a stipulation (a legal agreement) that establishes your paternity and includes a formal arrangement for you to make child support payments, then this document can become a court order.
Not all stipulations are the same, but most stipulations will include the following information: that the parent who will be paying support is the parent of the child or children, that the parent is willing to pay the child support and is willing to provide health insurance for the child or children if it’s available through the insurer; and that the parent is willing to have the court enter an order without a court appearance.
Contact an Experienced Child Support Attorney
If you are looking for a divorce attorney to help you with your case, San Diego’s Law Office of Renkin & Associates is prepared to provide you with the best possible representation. Our law firm understands that divorce litigation often means financial concerns for both parties, and we’ll help you through it, one step at a time, every step of the way. While it is not always an easy process, having the right advocate can make it less stressful and can mean a faster resolution in some cases, so you can get back to enjoying your children and living your life. Fill out an online contact form or call 619-299-7100 to schedule an initial consultation.
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