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Family Law Attorneys Help You Determine Your Child Support

Each parent is legally obligated to support their children. When the parents separate or the marriage dissolves, there is the issue of child support from the noncustodial parent. California, like every other state, has published guidelines that determine the amount to be paid. You and your spouse, however, can agree to a different support amount and include it in your settlement agreement, which the court will examine to see if it is reasonable and if the parties were fully advised and understood what they were agreeing to. Once that amount is set, though, it cannot be modified unless you can demonstrate a material change in circumstances.

Child Support Guidelines

If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on child support, then the guidelines will provide that amount for you. If you are requesting that the court deviate from the guidelines, you will need to show special circumstances justifying the departure. In California, child support is based on the following factors:

  • Income
  • Income potential
  • Number of children
  • Your disposable income after deducting for reasonable expenses
  • Tax deductions
  • Expenses for health insurance, medical and child care costs for the children
  • Percentage of time each parent is with the children
  • Amount non-custodial parent pays in court-ordered child support or spousal maintenance in a separate relationship

If your net disposable monthly income is less than $1,000, the court can order a lower amount than the guidelines indicate unless to do so would be unfair to the child. The court may also deviate if the obligor parent’s income is extremely high and the guideline amount is more than the child’s needs, if the time spent by each parent is equal but one parent has greater expenses in housing, or should the child have special needs necessitating increased support.

As you can see, there are numerous factors to be taken into consideration. You can go online to calculate your probable support payments or what is likely owed you, or consult with Pasadena family law attorneys if you are unsure about the calculations or if other factors may influence the obligation amount.

Child Support Modification Orders

Seeking a change in support can be complicated, which is why experienced Pasadena family law attorneys are needed to demonstrate that either a material change in circumstances warrants more or less support payments or that the current amount is sufficient. Examples constituting a material change in circumstances are:

  • Loss of employment
  • Incapacity due to injury
  • Incarceration of a parent
  • The child’s needs have materially changed

The court will closely scrutinize the motion to reduce or increase support and determine whether the moving party is seeking suitable employment if out of a job, has sufficient capacity to work and to earn more income, or if the child’s changing needs is unrelated to the child but is more likely because of the custodial parent’s needs. Also, a modification may be temporary.

Failure to Pay Child Support

Should the obligating parent fall behind on the payments, he or she may face:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Fines
  • Seizing tax refunds
  • Revocation of driver’s license
  • Possible incarceration

Also, a bankruptcy does not discharge a child support obligation. A support order usually lasts until the child turns 19, if not self-supporting, or graduates from the 12th grade, whichever is sooner; or if the child is legally emancipated, marries or enters military service.

You cannot simply stop paying child support if you lose your job without first obtaining a court modification order. Even if you are unemployed, the court can still impute income to you if there are jobs available for which you have the ability and the opportunity to perform.

As you can see, child support is not an easy issue for anyone and is often a source of much disagreement and conflict during and after divorce. Consult with Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law whenever you have a question regarding support or are considering a change in a current court order or agreement.