Comprehensive Overview Of Child Support In California

When it comes to raising children, you’re probably familiar with the saying “It takes a village.” This age-old proverb emphasizes the effort and support – including monetary support – needed by more than one party to ensure a child’s needs are met. While having the opportunity to raise children is a gift, it’s also challenging, even for couples who are together and well-off financially. For single parents, it can be an entirely different story.

This blog will provide a comprehensive overview of child support in California, including when it is required, how it is calculated, when it ends, and more. Let’s dive in!

Comprehensive Overview Of Child Support In California

The Importance & Basics Of Child Support

Making sure that your child is properly cared for, healthy, and happy, while simultaneously meeting the demands of everyday life, like work and personal relationships, can be extremely overwhelming. No one was ever meant to do it alone, and it isn’t fair for one parent to handle parenthood emotionally or financially on their own. In fact, it is required under federal and state law, that both parents in California provide their children with financial support. If necessary, the court might even order both parents to pay child support, but this usually is not the case.

If two parents cannot agree on the terms of sharing financial responsibility for their child, they will have to go to court in order for a judge to issue a court order for child support, which outlines what a parent will be required to pay each month. For those who are “generally employed,” child support is typically deducted directly from their paycheck, via what’s called an Income Withholding Order. If the receiving parent says that the paying parent can pay another way, a judge can put an income withholding order on hold.

What If A Parent Isn’t Paying Child Support? 

If the parent who is required to pay child support fails to do so, there can be a variety of consequences. In addition to interest added on the amount already owed, the LCSA (local child support agency) can take income tax refunds, have money removed from their bank account, suspend their driver’s license, put a lien on their property, have a passport application denied, and more.

How Is Child Support Calculated In California?

The courts use California’s “guidelines” to calculate child support. These guidelines look at how much money each parent makes, how they file taxes, and how much time they spend with their children. The different facets of income that are also taken into consideration include tips, commissions, bonuses, independent contractor income, unemployment benefits, disability or worker’s compensation, interest income, rental income, SSI or pensions, and any lottery winnings or insurance payouts.

Can Child Support Be Modified? 

“…a support order may be modified or terminated at any time as the court determines to be necessary.” (California Code, Family Code – FAM § 3651)

At some point in time, it is likely that one parent’s circumstances will shift in a way that necessitates a change in child support orders. When that occurs, modifications can be made. A few scenarios in which an adjustment in child support would be appropriate include:

  • being laid off or fired from a job
  • getting a new or additional job
  • one parent’s income increases or decreases
  • terms of custody or visitation changes
  • family increases or decreases in size
  • one parent becomes disabled
  • one parent goes to jail or prison
  • one parent deployed to active military service
  • and more

In order to make an adjustment, proof of income, expenses (including child care), medical insurance, disability, jail/prison status, unemployment benefits, retirement, and current custody/visitation agreements will be needed. Either parent can request modification as long as they have an open case.

When Child Support Ends In California

Child support typically ends when a child reaches 18 years of age and graduates high school. If they are still full-time high school students that cannot support themselves, then child support ends when they turn 19 or graduate. Or, “…when the child gets married, enters a domestic partnership, joins the military, is emancipated, or dies.”

Children With Special Needs

California Code, Family Code – FAM § 3910 – “The father and mother have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the extent of their ability, a child of whatever age who is incapacitated from earning a living and without sufficient means.”

For children with disabilities, the father and mother have a legal duty to support incapacitated children no matter how old they are. For a child with special needs, there may be additional care, medical devices, and other costs, so the amount of child support needed may go up.

Emotional Effects Of Child Support

Similar to divorce and custody, child support is more than just a legal and financial matter – it’s an emotional one. Struggling to make ends meet while giving your child the best life possible can be mentally draining. Frustration, anger, guilt are all emotions that can easily build when you aren’t getting the monetary support you need, thus hindering your other necessary parenting capabilities. It’s important to consult with a child support attorney who can help you handle the legal aspects of child support, while you navigate the emotional ones.

We Prioritize Honest, Ethical & Personal Legal Services. Call Today!

If you’re a parent and are not receiving the child support that your child is legally entitled to, or believe that you are overpaying or being taken advantage of, we can help. Our team of child support attorneys will take the time to evaluate your situation and understand your needs so that we can take legal action and secure the funds needed to support your family.

Call The Grey Legal Group today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team. We will help you…

  • determine child support payments based on the state’s guidelines
  • negotiate child support through the mediation process
  • litigate for child support
  • help you enforce child support if your co-parent refuses to pay
  • make modifications if necessary
  • and help you so you can ensure you’re receiving or paying the proper amount in child support.

Learn more today!

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The Grey Legal Group

At The Grey Legal Group, we believe in helping all families with their legal needs so they can be protected on your journey back to a calmer, happier place of stability. Whether it is divorce, child custody, guardianship, domestic violence, or adoption, we have seen it all before and we can help you through it. With the legal knowledge and experience we bring to the table, we will be certain to find the best and most efficient solution to your situation.

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