Los Angeles Child Support Lawyers
Because of the high cost of living in Los Angeles, establishing a suitable amount of child support is critical for both parents. If you are looking to set up child support or defend yourself against a support action, you will need an experienced, skilled Los Angeles child support attorney battling on your side.
Parent’s Duty To Support Minors
In the state of California, both parents carry an equal responsibility for the financial support of their minor child “in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.” The law obligates parents to provide for their children up until the children reach 19 years of age. Nevertheless, courts will enforce an agreement between the mother and the father for continued support of an adult child in some situations. Should the child be incapacitated in some way, there is no maximum age ceiling that limits the parents’ obligation. On occasion, a judge could specify some future happenstance when the payments shall terminate: the child’s marriage, for example.
In the event that the state, some governmental or private institution, or an individual volunteer assumes the responsibility of the care of the child, they may have the right to recover the cost from the parent. If the court orders any child support payments, and the county incurs costs and attorney fees in the process of enforcing such order, all the fees and costs are also chargeable to the parent. In California State, registered domestic partners have the same responsibilities with regards to their children as a married couple does.
Ability To Contribute
Each parent is expected to contribute according to his or her ability to do so. State authorities generally consider the duty towards the child fully satisfied with regards to the custodial parent. To raise children’s standard of living, and also to do away with disparity between the divorced or separated parents’ households, the court can obligate additional contributions for this purpose. Conversely, a parent has the right to claim a deduction for reasons of hardship under limited circumstances, such as a catastrophic, uninsured loss.
The Math Behind Child Support
The California family code instituted the following formula for the calculation of child support:
CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]
The Statewide Uniform Guideline, who originated the computation, mercifully delivers a detailed explanation for this:
- CS stands for the child support figure, the amount to be determined, or the x you might remember from high school algebraic equations.
- H% is the percentage of time over which the high earner has the primary responsibility for the children. The term “Primary responsibility” is defined by the courts in case law. So, for example, school time can be included or excluded, depending on which parent the primary caretaker is, or on who is paying the tuition.
- K is a fraction. This fraction represents the allocation of income by both parents, in total, towards child support.
- TN stands for the total net monthly disposable income of both of the parents, and finally,
- HN is the high earner’s net monthly disposable income.
As a separate calculation, the net disposable income is calculated by deducting taxes and costs such as retirement contributions, disability and health insurance, or any mandatory union dues from the gross income. The court can adjust the result at its discretion, if it believes it does not accurately reflect the potential future earnings, for example.
Detailed instructions are provided in California Family Code Section 4055. Nonetheless, should you find the inundation of letters in the formula above confusing, have a look at this example using numbers:
$4,500 per month = HN (high earner’s net disposable income per month)
$6,300 per month = TN (total net disposable income of both parents per month)
High earner spends 30% of time with the child in the role of primary caretaker = H%
Child support (CS) = K*[4,500 – (0.3*6,300)]
We need to calculate K first. In reality, formulas for calculation of K can vary, depending on the real H% figure, as well as the combined income of the parents. In this situation , K=1+H% multiplied by 0.25 (this fraction is derived from a table listed in Section 4055, and its application is limited to combined disposable income of both parents range between $801 and $6,666). So, K=1+ 30%*0.25=0.325.
When the number is input into the formula, it will look like:
Child support = 0.325*[4,500 – (0.3*6,300)]
This equals 0.325*[4,500 – 1,890] = 0.325*2,610 = $848.25
The example is, in actuality, a mere hypothetical. Due to the underlying variables that are subject to fact-finding by the courts. Things like a summer spent staying with grandparents, or a study abroad program might have an impact on the results. In rather broad terms, a parent’s contribution decreases (1) if they assume the role of the person primarily responsible for the child more often than the other parent; or (2) if the other parent earns a higher income.
It is critical to note that the result of this calculation constitutes a rebuttable presumption as to what the support must be. The court has the authority to issue an order for a divergent child support figure, for example, if the high earner’s income were rather extraordinary, that the amount under the guideline “would exceed the needs of the children.”
While Proceedings Are Pending
In the event that the child support is the subject of dispute between the parents, a court can set a temporary order for the payment of support. Should the parents happen to reconcile and return to living together in one household, the temporary order loses its effect.
California state courts also have the authority to issue an expedited support order. Whenever a court has an application for such order under review, the obligated parent, called upon to provide child support, is entitled to a hearing. Usually, an expedited support order becomes valid 30 days after the service of all necessary documents on the obligated parent. The court can also make the order take effect retroactively, as of the date that the application was filed.
If the obligated parent’s income is unknown, instead of utilizing the calculation from the guideline, the judge can order that parent to pay a minimum defined in the state’s welfare laws. The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act puts forth the “minimum basic standards of adequate care” in dollar amounts, beginning at $341.
Seeking a Modification
In general, courts have the authority to modify or terminate child support orders at any time, although a few limitations exist. A simplified process can be accessed by parents seeking modification or termination of child support. The California Courts website shows detailed instructions on how to apply, so that parents who are not able to afford legal assistance, can apply for a modification representing themselves.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is a payment made by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to provide for the child’s needs. While most support payments are ordered and made through the court system, some parents can reach an agreement that allows the non-custodial parent to make a payment directly to the custodial parent of the child. Payments can be used to purchase food, clothing, and other necessities that are needed for the child. It can also be used to ensure that payments are made to provide shelter and utilities for the child to use in the home.
How Is Child Support Ordered?
After making the decision to separate from the other parent of your child, you can meet with an attorney who can file a claim to present to the court to obtain child support. The court will look at whether either parent has other children to support, the incomes of both parents, and the primary payments that each parent needs to make each month, such as rent or electricity. An amount is then ordered by the court that the non-custodial parent will be asked to pay. The department of social services can also file a claim for child support to be paid if you don’t want to work through an attorney. Child support payments can be taken from wages when the non-custodial parent is paid or from government benefit payments. It can also be taken from tax return payments if the non-custodial parent is behind on payments.
Even if you make the decision not to have a relationship with the other parent of your child, both parties have a responsibility to provide for the child, which often means seeking help in order to obtain child support. It is also the responsibility of both parents to ensure that the payments are made each month. If a payment is missed, then the custodial parent can make a request to find out why it was not made. If there is a continuation of missed payments, then the non-custodial parent can be charged with not complying with a court order. If convicted, then the parent could spend time in jail until the payments are made or for a determined length of time that is set by the court. At times, non-payment of child support is reported to credit bureaus, which means that the non-custodial parent would have a lower credit score and could be impacted when seeking housing, employment, or a vehicle.
In most situations, child support is paid until the child is 18 or 19 years of age. Health insurance is usually a requirement with child support as well. If the custodial parent has Medicaid, another type of government healthcare, or private insurance for the child, then the non-custodial parent might not have to carry the child on a different policy.
When the court looks at factors to determine the amount of child support that needs to be paid, there is a formula that is usually provided by the state that is used. The amount of time that the child spends with each parent is often taken into consideration when child support payments are calculated, which is why visitation or custody arrangements are important if you are no longer with the other parent. An attorney can offer assistance if either parent feels as though the amount ordered is unfair in order to have the court take another look at the situation. If there are any changes while the child support order is in place for either parent, then the court can adjust the amount ordered if needed.
How Long Will I Have to Pay Child Support?
If you have been ordered to make child support payments, you may be wondering how long the payments will be required. Every state sets its own child support rules with no universal age at which child support ends. While child support usually ends at 18, it can extend beyond that. There are also cases in which child support can be terminated before then.
Child Support Usually Ends at 18
In the typical child support case, payments will end when the child reaches the age of either 18 or 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes sooner. This is because child support is designed to support a child’s needs. When someone reaches the age of majority (18), the child is considered an adult capable of supporting himself or herself. It’s important to note that not all states use 18 as the age of majority. There are a few states that extend child support to the age of 21. Some states also order child support payments as long as a child attends college. According to Delancey Street, a provider of Los Angeles hard money loans, child support cash advances can be provided as long as there is underlying property.
Child Support Can Extend into Adulthood
There are some extreme cases in which child support payments may be required after the age of 18. This is most common when the child suffers from a serious disability that makes them incapable of self-support and requires long-term medical treatment or care. Courts often make special exceptions for extra child support when a parent is caring for a child with special needs or a disability. Because the disability is viewed as economic hardship, a parent can receive child support beyond the age of majority to care for the child into adulthood.
Some states also order child support to continue into adulthood when the support payments are used to pursue education, whether it’s completing high school or higher education.
Child Support May End Before 18
There are several circumstances in which a court will consider a child self-supporting and immediately terminate child support payments. This may happen when the child begins to work, but it can also happen due to:
- Military enlistment
- Leaving home. When the child leaves their family home and gets their own place, parents may no longer have an obligation to pay child support.
- Emancipation. This term refers to an uncommon court process that allows a minor to become self-supporting without financial support required from either parent.
It’s important to remember that child support payments will not end automatically. The parent responsible for payments must request that their financial obligation end when the child reaches the age of majority in their state or a minor becomes emancipated. Because the child support end date can be difficult to calculate, it’s a good idea to work with the child support agency to determine the correct end date or speak with a family lawyer to begin the process.
What’s the Law for Temporary Child Support or Pendente Lite Child Support?
When it comes to family law, certain things just can’t be put on hold, while each side awaits the outcome of a court proceeding. One of the primary things affected by a divorce is the care and support of a child. Recognizing that the children involved in a divorce and/or custody battle need to be cared for, as the legalities are determined, family courts have established rules for pendente lite child support.
What Does Pendente Lite Refer to in Family Law?
The literal translation for pendente lite is “while litigation is pending” and concerns a temporary motion to lend relief to one party in a proceeding. This is a typical motion in a divorce, because it can be used to request that the spouse with the better situation provide support for the other spouse, while the divorce is pending. This is beneficial, particularly in cases where one spouse maintained the household, while the other spouse provided the main source of income for the family. It may also apply in cases where one spouse earned significantly less money than the other spouse.
Once a pendente lite motion is granted, it will typically last throughout the duration of the court proceeding. For that reason, it’s important that the petition to request the pendente lite motion be very specific and accurate. If the petitioner doesn’t request adequate support in the original motion, it may be difficult, or impossible, to adjust the terms at a later date. Once granted, the petitioner may have to live with the terms until the proceeding is resolved.
In relation to child support, equal parenting time does not negate the legitimacy of a request for relief. Perhaps one parent earns less money than the other, but has equal physical custody time. In that case, a motion for pendente lite relief may be filed to request temporary child support, until the terms of the custody dispute are permanently settled.
While many states do not require that parties hire attorneys to pursue a pendente lite motion, it’s advisable in most circumstances. An experienced family law attorney can help the petitioner better understand his or her rights, including the types of support for which they may qualify. Additionally, the attorney may be able to draft a more compelling motion, which will sway the judge’s opinion toward granting the request.
What’s Involved in a Temporary Order for Child Support?
A temporary order of child support can be requested to aid one party in a custody hearing, until a final determination can be made. Once the case is settled, the temporary order is considered satisfied and the parties will then abide by the final determination of the court. In the meantime, the temporary order ensures that the well-being of any children involved will be established.
In setting up a temporary child support order, the welfare of the children is the primary concern for the court. For that reason, the court won’t select an arbitrary amount for support, but will take several factors under advisement in determining appropriate support. The judge will examine documents outlining each parent’s assets and income, the number of children, the ages of the children, and the temporary terms of custody. additionally, the judge will also look at the expenses of each child, which means examining the costs of special needs for each of the children.
A temporary order of child support is likely to cover the basics and little else. The judge may only consider costs pertaining to food, clothing, shelter, schooling, and medical costs. This differentiates a temporary order from a final custody agreement, which will also take luxury and entertainment into account, as well.
There are advantages to complying with a temporary order of child support for each parent. It helps them grow accustomed to a support payment schedule, because it will likely resemble the final custody agreement. For this reason, it’s important to notify the court of any changes in the children’s lives that may affect the cost of supporting them in the future. Once custody is finalized, it may be very difficult to have support terms adjusted.
Additionally, some temporary child support payments may qualify for tax breaks. It may depend on the terms set forth by the court and on the individual’s ability to make those payments on time.
Pendente lite motions, such as temporary child support, can help alleviate a tremendous financial burden for one party in a divorce or custody proceeding. It’s important to address this issue with your attorney in advance, so you can better prepare your request for relief. A pendente lite motion prepared by an experienced lawyer has a better chance to convince a judge of the need for relief, so seeking help is often the wisest choice. Under all circumstances, the welfare of children involved in the dispute is the court’s highest priority. For this reason, a request for temporary child support may be one of the least difficult things to achieve, during a stressful court proceeding.
What are Decisions To Be Made On Child Support?
When couples divorce, many important decisions need to be made. This is especially true if the couple has children, since child support will be an issue examined closely by the court. Because New York law requires that both parents responsible for a child provide financial support until the child is age 21, the process of determining how much child support must be paid entails a number of factors. Due to the many details that go into this complicated process, it’s always important to work with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to handle these matters. If you find yourself in the midst of a divorce where child support will be an issue, here are some of the most important decisions related to the matter.
Child Support Standards Act
Once a child support order is finalized, the court uses guidelines under the Child Support Standards Act to determine how much financial support each parent will need to provide for the child. While there are basic formulas the court uses in these cases, it always has the option to deviate if special circumstances are present. In any case, the court always attempts to put the best interests of the child above all else.
In most of these cases, the non-custodial parent will likely be expected to pay the custodial parent a set amount of money each month, even if a joint custody agreement is in place. In most situations, the parent who has the highest income is expected to make payments to the custodial parent, since that parent will be responsible for the majority of the child’s day-to-day care. However, even when receiving payments, the custodial parent is still expected to provide financially for the child, ensuring the child will have an adequate standard of living. It’s also important to remember that the non-custodial parent will be ordered by the court to make payments on a monthly basis, even if they are unemployed or have little contact with the child, and it is their responsibility to make those payments in a timely manner.
Standard of Living
In any child support case, the court is very concerned with ensuring the child has a standard of living that will not be severely diminished due to the divorce. To ensure this is the case, the court will rely on a number of factors to make sure the standard of living will be maintained. This will include examining the incomes of both parents, how many children will be living with the custodial parent, the number of hours worked by the custodial parent, and other related factors. If it turns out the custodial parent’s income is higher than that of the non-custodial parent, the court will often lower the amount of the child support payment to be made.
How Will Child Support Be Used?
Since the main goal of child support is to keep the child living at the same level to which they have become accustomed, courts will also look at how the child support payments will be used to provide for the child’s well-being. Viewed as a resource to keep the child from being neglected or potentially ending up homeless, child support payments are generally expected to be used to purchase groceries, clothing, school supplies, and other items needed for the child’s welfare. Along with this, the money can also be used to help pay utilities, rent, mortgage payments, or other expenses related to the child’s housing needs.
Altering Child Support Payments
In some situations, there comes a point where the custodial parent may feel as if additional child support funds are needed to keep the child at a reasonable standard of living. For example, if the living conditions dramatically change for the child, or if the custodial parent can prove the other parent’s income has increased substantially, they can have their attorney petition the court for an increase in child support payments. And along with this, if the non-custodial parent ceases to make the court-ordered child support payments on time, the custodial parent can go to court about this as well, where their attorney will file a motion of cause to have the non-custodial parent explain to the court why the payments are not being made. In any case, the goal of the court is to make sure the children involved will not have a reduced level of living due to financial hardships.
Use an Experienced Attorney
In any divorce case that involves child support, it’s extremely important to work with an attorney who understands the various complexities concerning these legal matters. If you find yourself in need of legal guidance regarding child support, contact us as soon as possible. Call us toll-free at 888-997-5177 and schedule a consultation, where we can discuss your case in greater detail. By doing so, you’ll gain peace of mind, having attorneys who will ensure you and your children receive the assistance you deserve.