One of the most important issues in a divorce is child support. You want to ensure that your children are provided for. However, it may happen that the other side will not be concerned with the children’s well-being, but will use them as a way to generate more income. Both parents must provide for their children. But there are also parents who will go out of their way to avoid their obligations. If you are ordered to pay child support, you also want to make sure that the other party is not taking advantage of you and that you are paying the correct amount.
California has a formula (called a “guideline”) for determining how much child support should be paid. The monthly support amount is calculated based on both parents’ income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. Additional factors that can affect the payment include child care expenses, mortgage payments, tax filing status, and other financial circumstances. For example, child care expenses are mandatory “add-ons.” There are computer programs that determine the payment.
Knowing that the amount of time both parents spend with the children is a factor in determining child support, it is often to the advantage of the custodial parent to limit the non-custodial parent’s visitation to get maximize the payment amount. The custodial parent might try to limit the amount of time the non-custodial parent spends with the children by accusing the non-custodial parent of domestic violence.
Child support payments are usually made until a child turns 18, or turns 19 if he or she is still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support himself or herself. Parents can agree for longer support. The court may also order both parents to support a disabled child who cannot become self-supporting beyond the age of 18.
Reducing Child Support
We all know that life is not stable. Things can change. One day, you may get a raise, another day, you may be out of work. California family law recognizes that life does not stay still, and you can modify your child support payments based on a change in circumstances. The bottom line is that if your economic circumstances have changed, you need to see a child support lawyer. If your economic circumstances have changed for the worse, see a child support lawyer right away to modify your child support order. It is up to you to modify the order to ask for a reduction or a temporary elimination of payments. If you do not act, your old child support order will continue in effect and you will be behind on payments. If you lost your job, the worst thing you can do is nothing or make a verbal agreement with the custodial parent for a reduction of child support. Child support must be modified by a court order.
Please read the “Frequently asked questions” section to learn more. I encourage you to contact my office to get more information if you want to receive child support payments or to modify your existing child support payments.