Orange County, CA, is an expensive place to raise a child, especially on a single income. Child support plays an important role in providing for children when parents are separated. Child support is supposed to make sure children are provided with food, clothes, medical care, and education. But child support is not automatic. In many cases one parent refuses to pay what they should. In that case, you should hire a child support attorney to get the money you need to properly support your child.
This page provides information regarding:
- The basics of California’s child support laws
- Who is required to pay child support?
- How is it calculated?
- How can you modify child support payments?
- What happens if a parent avoids paying child support?
- Enforcing child support orders
- Wage garnishment
- Consulting with a child support attorney
Child Support Laws in California
Child support laws were made to ensure a child is able to grow up with the basic necessities covered, according to what the parents can provide. It takes more than just providing the child with love and attention. Money is needed to provide from their growth and well-being (especially in Orange County, CA). California Family Law § 4053 provides some guidelines for how courts decide child support matters:
- The first priority of any parent is to support their children
- Both parents share this responsibility
- Each parents income is considered in how much they should pay
- The children’s best interests are a top priority of California
- The parent who has primary physical custody is presumed to be contributing a significant portion of available resources for the support of the child or children
- The children should share in both parents’ standard of living
Following this guideline helps to streamline the process and reduce conflict & litigation in the process of defining child support. But this guideline is open to vast interpretation. If you want to know more, consult with a child support attorney.
Who Has to Pay Child Support?
Whether through a divorce case or child custody battle, child support will be considered in the proceedings. Child support is generally determined when custody is decided. If you need custody information, visit our child custody attorney page.
If the parents are married at the time the child was born or conceived, both mother and father is legally responsible for the caring of the child. If the parents were not married, paternity must be established before getting into the child support process. Salas v. Cortez.
Because both parents’ income and custody arrangements play a role, either parent or even both may have to pay child support. More commonly in Orange County, there is one primary custodial parent and the other parent pays child support.
How is Child Support Calculated?
The court looks at three main factors:
- The income level of both parents
- The amount of time each parent has primary custody of the child (“timeshare”)
- The number of children at issue
Time share is how much time a parent has primary responsibility of the child or children. The time that the children are in school are also factored in. Child support orders may include determining who picks up the child or children from school when they’re sick, who provides the ride to and from school, who pays for school costs, and even who should be attending school events.
California has a complicated math formula using these factors that calculates how much child support should be paid. Typically, the courts will use a computer program in which they just enter the numbers and it does the calculation for them. This type of child support calculator is dependent on the data inputs. Your lawyer will collect this data for you. Your child support attorney will know the programs currently being used by the court.
The algorithm is based on the California child support guidelines. You can get an estimate of your child support at the California Department of Child Support Services website. Although this computer program can show the child support estimate the Orange County family judge has the final say. Other factors that cannot be considered in the calculation, needs to be factored in by a judge, such as parental behavior.
To get the most accurate picture possible, consult with a child custody or family law attorney near you as soon as you can.
Child Support Attorney – Getting Modifications
Child support attorneys know that life changes and needs evolve over time. Modification of child support obligations can be made for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Either the receiving or paying parent has a significant change in income
- Living costs change
- There is a change in timeshare, which is the time a parent spends with the child
- The original amount agreed on by the parents is lower than the guideline amount
An Orange County child support attorney can help with their legal strategy to get the changes made successfully, no matter if you’re the child support payer or payee.
What Happens if a Parent Avoids Paying Child Support?
There are times when parents do things to avoid having to pay child support. These actions may be:
- Artificially increasing time spent with the child so that child support will be decreased
- Lying about how much income they have, often claiming less than the actual amount
- Interfering with the other parent’s time, to increase the amount of child support he/she will be receiving
Child support is a serious matter in family law. Children should not be used as pawns. A support order will be enforced by the court. There are instances where parents intentionally become unemployed or underemployed so that they can avoid paying child support. Unfortunately, the child or children is the one to suffer when a mother or father makes the decision to do this.
If the court finds out that a person is doing this to avoid paying child support, a judge may “assign” income to that parent. The court will consider the ability or the parent to earn income, rather than his/her actual income, to calculate the amount of child support. To impute income to that parent, the court will need to find that the parent has ability to work and have proof that there are available jobs that the parent is qualified.
Making Sure Child Support Orders Are Paid
Once the order is made by the court, a parent must pay the monthly child support. Many cases of child support in California are made with a wage assignment, otherwise known as a wage garnishment, in which your employer is told to take the support payments out of your paycheck. When the local child support agency (LCSA) is not involved, the parents can agree on a different method of payment and request that the wage assignment be “stayed” or put on hold. If the LCSA is involved, then the wage assignment must be active.
There are serious penalties when child support is not paid. The parent who refuses to pay may be found in contempt of court. If the judge sees that the parent is able to pay, but intentionally doesn’t pay, he/she could go to jail. California’s Child Support Services Program is designed to work with both parents, whether custodial or non-custodial, to make sure that court-ordered financial support is paid. We’ve written a detailed blog post on the advantages and disadvantages of using CA’s child support services program.
If your ex-wife or ex-husband is refusing to make child support payments, contact an experienced family or child support lawyer as soon as possible.
Wage Garnishment or Wage Assignment in Orange County
If you owe child support to the other parent of your child, then as much as 65% of your disposable earnings can be deducted as a wage garnishment. As much as 60% of your wages can be assessed for child support, with an additional 5% penalty if you have missed payments for more than 12 weeks.
However, if you are currently supporting a second family, then the maximum is 50%, with the possibility (again) of a 5% penalty if you have missed over 12 weeks of payments.
Consulting With a Child Support Attorney
Sometimes parents can work these things out on their own, but the arrangements must still be approved by court if you want to make sure it’s enforced. This process can be complicated, but hiring a child support attorney can give you the guidance you need on your case. You can get an over the phone consultation with a family lawyer by giving us a call. Our compassionate child support attorney wants to help you get the resources you need to raise your children properly.
What kind of lawyer do you need? Hiring an experienced Orange County child support attorney will increase your chances of receiving a fair amount of child support. An experienced family law attorney understands that every family has different circumstances and each child has different needs. Our lawyer will advise you of your rights and help you understand where you stand financially, as a custodial parent.
If you want to end child support payments, you should visit our ending child support page. You might be wondering if child support is taxable. Visit our tax implications of child support page for more information. If you are looking to get a divorce, review our divorce attorney page. If you’re looking for information regarding alimony, visit our spousal support page. If you want to establish paternity, or figure out paternity, visit our paternity page.