The Most Asked Questions about California Child Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

When there are kids from a marriage, their well being is the first thought that comes up in the minds of divorcing couples. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions as far as California child support is concerned.

  1. How is child support determined?

There is a statewide guideline in California based on which child support is ascertained. The formula used for determining is quite complex. Hence, calculations are usually done by an Orange County divorce attorney. These attorneys use some special computer programs that are licensed by organizations offering software on legal research. The calculation is carried out on the basis of factors such as income of both parents, their status on tax filing, and number of kids in the marriage, tax-deductible expenses of each parent, and the time span for which each parent has the child custody and so on.

  1. Is there a restriction on how much amount a court orders a parent to pay for child support in California?

There is no limit in California as far as the amount of child support is concerned, unlike some other States in the United States. The calculation mentioned in the guideline is the basis for legal calculation in a majority of divorce cases. There are a few exceptional situations where a court may digress from it.

  1. The calculation generated a figure that is much more than what is essential in bringing up a child. What is to be done then?

The amount to be granted by the “provider” parent to bring up a kid may not be same always. The Californian law states that a kid is eligible to lead a lifestyle that is similar to that of their parents. Hence, when the calculation for a child support enhances the lifestyle status of a parent with lower income, it is often upheld by a judge. However, in cases where the amount calculated for child support is exorbitant and does not match to the reasonable lifestyle of either of the parents, the court may decide to move away from the given guideline.

  1. What is the next course of action when the amount paid for child support is sufficient for supporting the other parent as well as the kid?

Such a scenario does occur on various occasions. The law enables the child to lead the lifestyle that is enjoyed by the parent with higher earnings. There are cases upheld by a superior court when a receiving parent petitioned for receiving housing as well as many other expenses as the amount paid for child support is not adequate. It is a common result when a parent is earning a very high income,

  1. Which incomes should be included while calculating child support?

Some of them are cash flows from a business, income from investment, recurring interest and salary from employment.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

What To Know About California Child Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediators in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsChild support is money which any court orders both parents or any one parent to pay to assist in paying for child (or children) support and the latter’s living expenses. The amount must be paid every month. Every California county has a family law facilitator to assist you for such activities. These services can be had for free. The facilitator helps in a number of ways like preparing the forms and explaining the procedures of the court for obtaining and changing the child support orders. The person concerned will also help in calculating total child support using guidelines and explain how the court arrives at the child support decisions.

Parent guide

A child support agency is present in every California county to assist you when it comes to getting, collecting and changing child support activities.  Courts in California must order the child support amount as determined by child support guideline. The only exception is that if a particular case fits one of few legal exceptions linked to the rule. One exception is that parties consent to an amount which is different from guidelines related to child support. The solution, however, must meet certain tests.

Non-guideline support

Most parents can consent to “non-guideline” support of both know fully their rights to support the child. They should also know the guideline support amount of the child. Parents must not be forced or pressured to give consent to the child support amount. This is applicable if parents do not receive public assistance or have not made any application for any public assistance. They have also consented to monetary support to meet the needs of the children.

The parents can agree to any child support order based on this guideline. The couple, by signing on a particular written agreement for guideline amount, have no need to visit a judge so that the latter can make a decision on child support. The agreement musty be submitted to court clerk for the judge to sign. Only after signing that it could be enforced as a court order.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Forms of Child Support In Divorce Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsWhen a couple divorces, child support plays an important consideration in it. Reasonable maintenance of a child would consist of providing expenses like training and education, medical and dental care, clothing and recreation if applicable. In fact, both the divorcing parents have a responsibility for child support as per their individual means. This responsibility exists in situations when the child in concern is born out of or in wedlock or has been adopted. The question of child support also pops up, if a child is born from a previous marriage or a subsequent one. The reasonable amount depends on the existing standard of living of the family, cot of living and on parents’ income.  Here are some of the forms of child support:

Cash payments on a monthly basis

The primary spouse who has the physical custody of the children typically gets monthly cash payments from the other parent. The maintenance order or the divorce agreement will have a mention of how much will be the amount of money paid by one parent to the other each month. Either the monthly payment is done in advance or it is determined on a particular date on every month. The mode f payment could be through electronic transfer/debit order in an account specified by the parent who is entrusted with the primary care of the children. The amount of maintenance cost that is payable may have an annual increment on the divorce order’s anniversary date or whenever there is a change in the inflation eats as declared officially.

Educational expenses

Educational expenses can include pre-school as well as aftercare fees, school lunches, camps, school outings, additional tuition fees, school fees expenses towards sports and extra-curriculum activities, any other activities the kid participates, sport tours and club fees, and expenses related to any type if equipment like computers, uniforms, stationery, school books and any other expenses for the child related to his or her school.

Medical expenses

Parents must also bear medical, surgical, dental, vision, orthodontic and hospital expenses for their children whenever necessary as per their means.

As mentioned before, both the parents should support their kid according to their financial capacity. Though a father may be financially stronger, the mother cannot shirk the duty.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Why Do Some Parents Not Want To Pay For Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsA major aim of a professional mediator is to guide and assist the parents to keep the best interests of their kids in mind. A significant decision, which affects the kinds involved in the divorce, is the amount of money to be paid as child support to the parent who gets their custody from the court. How this amount gets calculated may vary from state to state and depend on the total number of kids of the marriage.

Goal of a mediator

The key goal of a mediator is to make sure that the final child custody amount to be paid is agreed upon by both the parents. The trick to arrive at this agreement is to ensure that the parent held accountable for the child support payment gets a proper buy-in in the course of the decision-making process.

Reasons for not paying for child support

A common reason why many people do not pay the stipulated child support money is that they are not convinced that the amount they should be paying will help in supporting their kids. Another key reason for refusing to pay is many people find it difficult to digest when a lawyer or the judge tells them to pay for child support and determine the amount and frequency.

Many are under the misconception that disputes related to child support are only restricted to divorces with high conflict. However, in reality, that is incorrect. Even while the two parties are having an amicable divorce, issues related to child support can be a big headache. A parent may feel it highly frustrating to hand over their hard earned money to the former spouse and yet enjoy no authority over the exact allocation of that money. When there is uncertainty about how the funds will be exactly spent, it will be difficult to feel inspired enough to pay the amount for child support and also paying it regularly.

The key issue mostly originates when a spouse does not have an adequate say in the exact amount of child support. If lawyers, judges or other stakeholders go about making such decisions, the said spouse may not be fully convinced always. On the other hand, if the person concerned is given some say to shape up the decision, they would definitely be more willing to adhere to such a plan of child support. When a payer gets privileges related the kind of child support payment they need to pay and how the money will be used, they are motivated and try to pay the agreed upon payment for child support. Thus, it is crucial for the couple to set up an initial agreement and make sure that it works out successfully.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

How Is Legal Separation Different From A Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorney Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsLegal separation is the formal process of confirming an actual separation of the parties, as opposed to filing for divorce.  Parties that chose legal separation do so for religious reasons, do not believe in divorce, or have concerns about medical insurance coverage, among other reasons.  If the parties proceed all the way to a final judgment in a legal separation case, they can obtain the same orders that they would have in a divorce case.  The biggest difference is that in the end, the parties are technically still married after a legal separation case and cannot get legally remarried.

Agreement for separation

An agreement on separation includes terms that are quite similar to those if the concerned couple was getting a divorce. This means there will be a distribution of their marital property, agreement on child visitation and custody if applicable. Not only this, the couple opting for a legal separation will also have to come to a decision on dividing any debts that were incurred by them after they got married.

Ideally, the above-mentioned terms should be binding in case the couple wants to get divorced. Moreover, both parties should hire their individual attorneys for negotiating all the details of the agreement on their legal separation. In case the spouses eventually make up their mind to go one step ahead and file for a divorce, it has been observed that the judge usually keeps the same terms as both the parties agreed to them earlier.

Differences between a legal separation and a divorce

Check out some of the following key differences between a divorce and a legal separation.

Name

While the spouse continues with the legal married name in the case of a separation, a wife may revert back to her maiden name after the divorce comes throughout the divorce be.

Child support

The conditions related to child support are ascertained when the legal separation takes place. When a couple decides to go for a divorce after being legally separated, ideally, the same terms are followed that were mentioned in the document for legal separation.

Marital status

A couple is still married even though there is a legal separation going on. But when the divorce is finalized, the marriage ends.

Child visits

Visitation rights of the child are decided when the legal separation takes place. If a divorce comes through after the legal separation, most of the times, the same terms are followed as mentioned in the document of their legal separation.

Alimony

The terms for alimony are ascertained during the legal separation. The conditions are typically kept same if the divorce gets finalized in the future.

Split of marital property

The couple agrees to the terms while going for a legal separation. When they do decide to finally divorce, the sane conditions that are mentioned in the document for legal separation are followed.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

What To Consider About Kids and Finances After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsThere are many people who go all numb when their divorce proceeding is underway. The reason for such an emotional state is because it could be too much to go through all sorts of chaos and painful feelings as the harsh reality is there for them.  However, things can be even more complicated where kids are involved in a divorce. Firstly, there is this emotional trauma. Above that, there is the important concern of money.

Breaking up is quite simple and straightforward for all those divorcing couples do not have kids from their marriages. If you fall into that category, simply divide your and your spouse’s assets and start life afresh after your divorce comes through. On the other hand, divorcing couples with children face a more complicated problem and if they are younger, things could be even trickier. In a nutshell, child support could be quite a complicated area.

Costs of child support

The cost of child support may be paid to either the mother or father. It actually depends on who is taking care if the kids. A parent who pays the maintenance cost can often be the “non-custodial parent.” In a majority of these cases, it is the father or the ex-husband, who plays this role or pays the maintenance costs.

The family house

One of the most important priorities for the divorcing couple is to ensure that the kids should continue having a proper home for them even after the finalization of the divorce. There are several such occasions where it has been observed that the ex-husbands have a tendency to sell if the house and go away with 50 percent of its value but it does not have to be so necessarily.  When too many assets are not there to split, assuming the wife is the primary career and the kids are usually permitted to continue staying in the same home. In case either of the partners behind a new relationship; matters could be even more complicated. When the mother gets married again or brings in a new partner, there are no alterations in the obligations of the father as he has to keep beating the maintenance costs as he was doing previously. However, he is no longer obliged to pay for the maintenance of his former wife any longer in case she cohabits in some cases or remarries.

However, if the father starts cohabiting with a new partner and the latter has kids from an earlier relationship but now live with them, he could be paying less money for child maintenance to his own biological children.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Does an Unemployed Parent Have to Pay Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsAccording to California law, it is the legal duty of both parents to provide financial support to their child/children, even if the parents are not married. The income earned by both parents plays a pivotal role in determining how much support the child/children in concern would need.

Sadly, a lot of parents end up fighting child support by willingly reducing their income. They do this by working fewer hours or by opting to be unemployed on purpose.  The motivating factor behind such an action is usually revenge against the spouse or the system. However, the actual victims here are usually the children.

An Overview

As far as California is concerned, child support is a legal obligation until children reach the age of 18 and are out of high school. Under certain conditions, they can be eligible till the age of 19.

It is possible for parents to agree on a certain amount as child support. However, for it to be enforced in the court of law, the case must be presented before a judge. Such a case is usually presented to the judge by either the parent or the California Department of Child Support Services on the child’s behalf.

The amount is usually settled by the court after seeking agreement from both parents.

The child support is paid to the custodial parent, as the law believes that he/she is already spending money on the child by providing care. So, the responsibility of child support falls on the non-custodial parent.

Child support is calculated by taking several factors into consideration such as child-related expenses and income earned by both parents.

Unemployment

Before we understand how unemployment affects a parent who has been ordered to pay child support, we must first look at how child support is determined. There is a formula that is used by the Californian government to calculate child support.  As we stated earlier, there are many factors at play here.

To put it simply, it is impossible to avoid child support even when unemployed. For example, Californian courts will look at other income sources such as dividends from bonds or stocks, rent, unemployment benefits and health insurance etc.

In other words, the court will impute income to the unemployed parent. They will consider the concerned parent’s ability and willingness to work, while also assessing available opportunities to work. If there are no valid reasons to support the unemployment, the parent will be forced to pay child support one way or another.  The parent can try modifying the child support order to avoid paying, but, that rarely works.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Am I Required to Pay Child Support For My New Spouse’s Prior Children?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediators in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce proceedings can be quite tricky and each individual situation may demand looking into specific regulations in order to arrive at a fair decision for all. A lot of times, couples in second marriages or even third marriages wish to get divorced. In nearly all such cases, step-children (or non-biological children to one of the spouses) are involved. So do you need to pay child support for your spouse’s children from the previous marriage?

According to the current divorce law in the United States, you need to support all your biological children produced by you and your partner during time of the marriage. In addition to this, you also need to offer support to any adopted children between you and your partner (adoption has taken place during marriage).

The same rules may not apply to stepchildren and in cases when the child/children born during the marriage were not fathered by the husband, but some other man in a relationship with the woman.

When a step-parent needs to pay child support

It’s not always that only a biological parent has to pay child support with the ending of a marriage. According to the law, there are some exceptions to the rule. When a common law partner or step parent has been performing the parental role, also termed as ‘loco parentis’, the court might order the person to provide for child support, irrespective of whether or not they are biological parents of the child.

But the court will only order such child support when the person can be defined as a “parent” (as defined by the Family Relations Act).  So the court will only order a step-parent to pay child support if-

  • He was in a common-law/marriage-like relationship with his partner (the child’s parent) for a minimum of 2 years or was married to the parent of the child for any period of time and
  • Made a contribution to the maintenance or child support for a minimum of 1 year and
  • Made his last contribution to child support or maintenance within a year of the specific date when the filing of the child maintenance claim took place in the court.

It is also important to remember that if a person entered into a legal agreement with his spouse to offer child support to the stepchild in case of divorce, the court will usually force them to honor such a contract.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Repeal of Maximum Family Grant Rule and Its Effect on Child Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsOne of the most inhumane laws that loomed over the State of California was the Maximum Family Grant rule (MFG). According to this law, if anyone in the family is under the scheme of cash aid for 10 months in a row, a child born into the same family will be excluded from the Assistance Unit (A.U) bracket and is not eligible for child support. The MFG rule was added to CalWORKs program in August 1997 and is applicable for those children born after the same date.

The MFG law- a racist, sexist and discriminatory law 

From the time the MFG law was enforced, it discriminated against poor young woman against demanding basic aid for child support. This rule penalized mother’s enrolled in the state offered cash welfare program if they were to give birth. Monetary assistance included only those children born before the time the law came into practice or if the children were born prior to the mother receiving cash aid from the state. MFG was adopted as a measure of reformation and is largely viewed as enforcement of restricting the size of the family- mostly a curb on colored women.

Repeal of Maximum Family Grant rule and its effect on child support

The latest state budget included the repealing of the MFG rule with full support from Governor Jerry Brown. The motion to repeal the law was passed few months earlier. The dissolution of this law comes as a relief for over 90,000 families who were dealt with an iron hand by this biased law. The excluded families will now benefit from additional $138 for each child that was previously left out.

The repeal will increase the state’s budget by $220 million, annually. With the repeal, California joins 22 other states including Minnesota, Maryland, and Wyoming. Currently, there are only a dozen other states that refrain from supporting the family when an extra child is born if the family is enrolled in a cash aim program. The remaining two states follow an inflexible system wherein a certain amount is paid regardless of the number of children.

The enforcement of the MFG law was directed towards children born out of wedlock. The children also include those conceived from incest, rape and birth control fails forcing the woman to share unconformable personal details with the case worker.  Since there was no evidence to prove that MFG was successful in controlling the growth of population, its repeal comes as a restoration of faith in humanity.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Understanding The California Child Support Laws

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsSection 4053 of the California Family Code lays down the intent and purpose of laws related to child support. These laws have evolved over the years to suit the needs of the time. Section 4053 of the Family Code has enabled fast resolving of child support cases and has also determined the calculation of support payments.

Scope of the law

The child support laws have been framed keeping in mind the best interests of the child involved in a child support case. The basic intentions of the child support laws are as follows –

  • It wants to remind the court and the parents that it is an obligation required by the law for the parents to support their child.
  • The most important role of the child support laws is to ensure that conflicts between the parents are minimized and litigations are reduced so that the child does not have to unnecessarily suffer because of his or her parents’ egos and differences of opinion.
  • A child should have the same standard of living as the parents.
  • The ability of the parents to support the child is taken into consideration. Both the parents are equally obligated to care for their child. Their income and time should be devoted reasonably to be look after the child.
  • The custodial parent’s standard of living can be improved by receiving child support which is also meant to improve the standard of living of the child.
  • It is wrong to presume that the parent who is the sole custodian of the child already has used enough of his or her resources to support the child. That is to say, the parent paying child support has the right to request the court to modify support payments.
  • Child support orders in California are generous because the city is quite expensive to live in.

California child support cases sometimes get delayed for a number of reasons. Parents sometimes withhold valuable information about their income hoping they will either receive more or have to pay less child support. Sometimes parents don’t show any interest in their child.

To learn more about child support and the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation