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:

IF

$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%

THEN

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.