Articles Posted in Child Support

Under California law, parents have a duty to support their children financially. In the context of shared custody, this often means that one parent will have to pay the other parent child support. Many people lack a clear understanding of the laws surrounding child support, though, and when they find themselves in a situation where they may be subject to a support order, they are unsure of how they can protect their rights. If you have questions about child support and how it is calculated, it is smart to speak to a Bay Area child support lawyer at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, you can continue reading to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about child support.

How is child support calculated?

 In California, child support is calculated using a complex formula that considers various factors including the parents’ income, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, tax deductions, and other relevant financial information. Factors such as each parent’s gross income, mandatory payroll deductions, the number of children, health insurance costs, and any other relevant expenses are all considered to ensure the support amount is fair and adequate for the child’s needs.

While people generally understand that the courts may issue orders imposing child support obligations in cases in which parents share custody of a child, few people truly understand the purpose of child support. Further, they may have questions about what it can be spent on and how long such support is available. It is important for anyone who shares custody of a child to understand California law pertaining to child support, however, to avoid unintentionally waiving important rights. If you would like to learn more about the goals of child support and what it can be used for, it is in your best interest to meet with a Bay Area child support lawyer as soon as possible.

What is the Purpose of Child Support?

In California, child support is governed by various statutes, with the primary purpose being the well-being and financial support of the child. The overarching goal is to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial responsibilities associated with raising a child, even if they are no longer together. The key statutes with regard to child support are California Family Code sections 4050 to 4076, which outline the guidelines and factors considered in determining child support obligations.

The purpose of child support is to provide for the child’s basic needs, including but not limited to food, shelter, clothing, and education. California law recognizes that both parents have a legal and moral obligation to support their children financially. The amount of child support is typically determined based on the income of both parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and other relevant factors such as health care costs and childcare expenses. Continue Reading ›

I am a divorce lawyer, and also a product of divorce. I was fortunate enough that it was low-drama, and my childhood was not shaped by the fact that my parents were no longer together. Their amicable divorce helped inspire me to pursue this career, because I want to be able to do my part to help my clients achieve the same result, when it is possible.

When I was 15 years old, my parents informed me that they were going to split up. My dad was moving out to a nearby apartment complex in Pleasant Hill, that was actually a few minutes closer to my high school. My mom was staying in the house. My parents’ marriage had been wrought with some turmoil, but I always felt like they had “gotten through it” and so it would be smooth sailing for the rest of their lives. After they announced their split, I was shocked at first, but quickly grew accustomed to it.

My parents never put pressure on me to spend equal time with both of them, because my dad would make efforts to come to the house and hang out with my mom and I. He would frequently come over for dinner, and would be at all of my swim meets, water polo games, and other school events. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was to come over and mow the lawn at our house, and I would see him out there every Sunday without fail. Some of our neighbors did not even know that my parents had split. I would usually spend one full week out of the month with him at his apartment, but it was never compulsory- it was always based around my needs and my schedule.

When parents share custody of a child, it is not uncommon for the court to order the higher-earning parent to pay child support. The parties’ income can change over time, however, making modifications of child support orders necessary. As explained in a recent California case, such changes do not change the obligation to pay past due amounts. If you have questions about your financial obligations or rights with regard to your child, it is wise to talk to a Bay Area child support attorney at your earliest convenience.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that the mother and the father had a child in 2004; they divorced and were granted joint custody of the child. In 2017, the family court ordered the father to pay monthly child support of approximately $1,200, and he was found to owe close to $7,400 in arrears. In December 2018, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) filed a stipulation and order, referred to as the 2018 Order, stating that the father would pay a minimum of $100 per month for a driver’s license and occupational licensing agreement with DCSS, emphasizing it as a temporary arrangement.

Reportedly, in November 2019, the father sought a court order specifying the child support the mother had to pay under the 2018 Order. The family court, in September 2020, granted Father primary physical custody, modified his monthly payment to $0 as of December 2019, but retained his arrears. In June 2021, DCSS claimed the father owed almost $8,000 in arrears through November 2019. Father, in August 2021, sought a determination of support arrears, arguing that, based on the 2018 Order, the mother should be responsible for child support in 2019. Continue Reading ›

In many divorce actions in which parents have joint custody, the courts will deem it necessary to order one parent to pay the other support. As child support obligations are largely income-based, in cases in which a parent’s income fluctuates, it may be difficult to determine an appropriate amount, and the support order may need to be adjusted over time. As discussed in a recent California ruling, the court that issues a support order will generally retain the authority to modify the order as long as it is in effect. If you have questions about child support, it is in your best interest to speak to a Bay Area child support attorney as soon as possible.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the parties were briefly married before separating and divorcing; they had one child during their marriage.  In the judgment of dissolution, the court ordered the father to pay child support. In 2015, the mother requested a modification, claiming the father had misstated his finances. After a 2017 trial, the court reduced the father’s support obligation and ordered him to make annual Ostler-Smith payments.

Allegedly, in 2019, the father requested a determination of arrears, claiming he overpaid support since 2015. At a hearing, the court assured the mother she could conduct discovery on the Ostler-Smith calculations and present evidence at a future hearing, as the court retained jurisdiction over that issue. Nevertheless, the mother served discovery requests seeking the father’s financial records. The father opposed producing the documents. Continue Reading ›

Under California law, parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. As such, in cases of shared custody, the courts will often set forth orders obligating one parent to pay child support to the other. Disputes often arise regarding each parent’s ability to pay, however, and in such instances, parties will often hire experts to support their opinion. A recent California ruling addressed the disclosure requirements for expert reports in child support actions, ultimately rejecting the father’s claim that a report should be excluded. If you need assistance with a child support action, it is smart to speak with a Bay Area child support attorney about your rights.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father shared custody of their minor son, pursuant to a paternity action, and that the father was obligated to pay child support to the mother. The father subsequently sought to reduce his child support obligation. The mother requested a vocational evaluation of the father. The vocational expert issued a report in which he relied on documents in the record since the father refused to participate in the evaluation. The father filed three motions in limine to preclude the vocational expert report, which the trial court considered and denied.

It is reported that the court held a hearing on the child support issue, during which the father testified about his limited ability to work due to a car accident and presented evidence from his sister in support of his assertion. The expert testified that the father had several job options, including the option of working as a legal assistant, which offered the highest earning opportunity. The court admitted the expert report into evidence. The mother testified about her income and expenses as well. Considering the expert’s testimony and the mother’s financial situation, the court increased the father’s child support obligation by approximately $275 per month. The father appealed. Continue Reading ›

Under California law, parents must support their minor children financially. In the context of child custody cases, this often means that the courts will order one parent to pay the other child support. While child support obligations are typically calculated based on each parent’s actual income, in some cases, they will be determined based on a parent’s earning potential. For example, in a recent California child support case, the court imputed income to the father in the amount he earned prior to quitting his job.  If you have questions about your rights and potential obligations with regard to child support, it is smart to confer with a California child support lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that in December 2019, the mother and the father stipulated to a status-only judgment of dissolution. At the same time, they filed a settlement agreement in which the father agreed to pay the mother $2,500 per month for childcare and child support. The agreement included a report that reflected the monthly wages and salary of the father and the mother as $9,974 and $12,253, respectively. About one month after filing the agreement, the father quit his job. He paid the mother partial child support for two months, then stopped payments entirely.

Allegedly, in June, the father filed an RFO (request for order) in which he claimed he had no income and asked the court to modify his child support obligation. The mother opposed the RFO and requested that the court either continue the current obligation or, alternatively, increase the amount. The court ruled in favor of the mother, ordering the father to pay $2,351 each month in child support plus half of the mother’s childcare expenses. In doing so, it imputed income to the father in the amount he earned prior to leaving his job. The father appealed. Continue Reading ›

Many times when the parents of a child end their relationship, they will turn to the courts to decide issues of custody and child support. There are numerous factors that a court should consider in determining an appropriate custody arrangement and support obligation. For example, a court will typically evaluate how much time each parent spends with a child in calculating child support obligations. Recently, a California court discussed a court’s discretion, or lack thereof, in determining an appropriate support obligation, in a case in which timesharing that did not exist was accredited to the father. If you share custody of a child and you or your co-parent wish to seek child support, you should speak to a trusted California child support attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father were parents of a minor child. The mother sought child support, after which the court entered an order based on guidelines that required the court to determine the approximate amount of time the higher-earning parent spent with the child and use that number to calculate an appropriate support obligation. The trial court had attributed a twenty-nine percent timeshare to the father, even though for several years, he had no visitation with the child.

Reportedly, the mother appealed the order as it pertained to the periods in which the father did not spend time with the child, which was approximately five years. The court found in favor of the mother and ruled that the order must be recalculated based on the father’s actual timeshare of the child during the disputed period.

Continue Reading ›

California law does not allow retroactive modifications of child support orders. However, it does recognize what are known as “Jackson Credits” to resolve child support arrears cases. If you believe you are eligible for a modification of what you owe in support, here is what you need to know.

Jackson Credits Defined

Jackson credits arise when a non-custodial parent assumes full custody of a child but fails to file a motion to modify the underlying child support order, custody order, or both. If the non-custodial parent can prove that he provided a primary residence for the child, he can seek credit to reduce or eliminate the amount owed in child support arrears. The court’s rationale in awarding Jackson credits is that the non-custodial parent fulfilled his support obligation by providing a primary residence for the child.

By Ethan M. Weisinger

A client recently asked me, “What do I do about the enforcement of a child support order when both parents have moved out of the state where our child support order was made?”

     Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”, codified at California Family Code §4900, et. seq.), the concept of Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction (“CEJ”) determines which State has the authority to modify a child support order. UIFSA’s “Controlling Order” is the order to be prospectively enforced. When multiple child support orders exist in a single case, it is necessary to determine CEJ and identify which order is the Controlling Order. Pursuant to UIFSA and Family Code §4909(d), “a tribunal of this state shall recognize the continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of a tribunal of another state which has issued a child support order pursuant to this chapter or a law substantially similar to this chapter.” The choice-of-law rule for the interpretation of a registered order is: the law of the issuing State governs the underlying terms of the controlling support order, with one exception, and that is if the registering and issuing State have different statutes of limitation for enforcement, the longer time limit applies. (UIFSA §604). In California there is no statute of limitations for collection of child support. Therefore a parent can seek child support arrears even after the child has grown to be an adult.

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