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Child Support

Can California Child Support be Changed Without Going to Court?

Types of Restraining Orders in a Divorce

In California, a change in child support must be approved by the court but it is possible to modify your child support order without stepping foot inside a court room. Parents may come to an agreement outside the courtroom, but they will still need to file a stipulation or request a change to the original order by filing a motion for modification with the court.

Child Support in California

Parents in California have a legal obligation to financially support their children, typically through the age of maturity (age 18). Sometimes a situation arises where the parent ordered to pay support cannot or does not want to continue paying. Some parents simply stop making the payments altogether. 

California law does not look kindly on parents who fail to make their child support payments or who take it upon themselves to make a change in those payments without approval of the court or the person receiving support. If a change is required in child support due to a life event or situation, the law requires the paying parent follow proper legal procedures. If you do not have your order changed properly, this could mean financial ramifications for you down the road including losing your drivers license or passport.

Reasons for a Child Support Modification

California courts recognize there are many reasons why a child support order might need to be changed. The basis for modification is often referred to as a “change in circumstances.”

  • One or both parents has had a change in income.
  • A parent has lost their job.
  • One parent has been incarcerated.
  • There is now another child from another relationship.
  • How much time the child spends with each parent has changed significantly.
  • Costs for the child’s current healthcare, education, and/or childcare have increased.

The court will also consider a modification when any of the factors used to calculate child support have changed.

It’s crucial that anyone who anticipates or has a change in circumstances let the original family court know immediately that they need the child support order modified. If you’re the parent unable to make payments, ignoring the situation can have serious, negative legal consequences.

How to Get a Child Support Order Modified

You have several options for starting the modification process: contact a local child support agency, hire a family law attorney, or use the services of a family court law facilitator. No matter who you choose to ask for assistance, you’ll need the following information when requesting a modification

  • Current income and expenses.
  • Proof of childcare expenses.
  • Medical insurance.
  • Unemployment benefits.
  • Retirement income.
  • Disability information such as SSI, SDI, and SSA.
  • Jail or prison status, if applicable.
  • Current and proposed custody and visitation arrangements.

California courts generally believe a modification is in order when the change is either 20% or $50, whichever is less. Keep in mind that if the request is approved, the court will not apply the change to outstanding back payments. The new amount applies only to future support payments unless you agree otherwise.

If you and the other parent can amicably agree on the changed amount, you can sign an agreement or stipulation and submit it to the court for approval. If you cannot come to an agreement, the court will set a hearing date at which time the judge will review the request and, if she or he agrees with the changes, issue a new order.

Child support is ordered to ensure that children are taken care of after their parents no longer live together. There are many valid reasons for seeking a change in child support including the loss of a job, serious injury, or a change household income. It can be a complicated process, especially when the parents do not agree. A great way to start, even if you have reached an agreement, is to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process.

Tips to Calculating Child Support

Calculating Child Support in California 

Every parent has an obligation to care for their child, even if their marriage falls apart. California law imposes guidelines on the local courts that help judges determine the appropriate amount of child support to award a family. Calculating child support in California is based on a calculation that takes both the parties income and how much time they spend with the child into consideration.

It’s important to note, California law requires all sources of income to be included with calculating child support.  This is outlined in Family Code Section 4058, it includes but is not limited to the following: commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest,  and trust income.

The process of gathering and assessing all of the information that is needed in order to provide an accurate decision is time consuming and frustrating.  However, it is important to ensure the continued stability of the child following a separation. Each parent should feel confident about the amount that has been ordered by the court to benefit their child.

1.  Make sure you are well organized!

One of the first steps in dealing with child support effectively and efficiently is to ensure that you are well organized. In the state of California, child support amounts will be calculated using a number of factors that are entered into a child support calculator.

Like any other form of data, the calculator will only be able to provide your judge with an accurate number if you provide accurate information. This means that you will need to ensure you have access to all necessary documents that contain information on your taxes, deductions and monthly income, including:

  • Wage stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Childcare expenses
  • Unemployment or disability benefits
  • Premiums for health insurance
  • Spousal support that is being paid into other relationships
  • Necessary expenses related to your job that are not reimbursed by an employer
  • Retirement contributions that are mandatory
  • Uninsured losses
  • Health care expenses
  • Child support paid for children within other relationships

You have to be able to prove, with documentation, the expenses and income that you list on your income and expense declaration.  Gathering up your information ahead of time will save time and money.  The court requires your last two month of paystubs if you are a W2 employee and you should be able to produce your last years taxes if asked.  If you are self employed, you will have to produce a profit and loss statement for the last 2 years.

2.  Has there been a change in your situation?

There are some instances in which an order for child support can be altered or changed if there is a change in circumstances for the individuals involved. A change in circumstances can be recognized in a variety of different forms, but some of the most common options include:

  • The incarceration of a parent
  • The loss of a job
  • One parent having a child in another relationship
  • A change in income
  • A significant change to the child’s needs which may increase the costs of healthcare, childcare, or education
  • Change in the amount of time a child spends with each of his or her parents

It is important to have your request pending immediately as it does take time to get into court.  Sometimes it can take months before you will be able to have your case heard.  Filing right away will reserve the retroactivity date.

3. Work with a professional attorney in your area!

Although it is possible to access free child-support calculators online, it is easy to call their accuracy into doubt. Calculating child support on your own can be done however you will usually find this will only lead to confusion and frustration. There is no way to ensure that you are taking all the deductions that you can or using the right figures.  Usually, working with an experienced and professional family lawyer will ensure that you have all the information you need regarding child support payments.

You may still get along with your former spouse but this is a legal matter now and you want to have someone who knows this arena on your side.

Minella Law Group can Help with California Child Support Issues

If you think you need assistance with calculating your child support, or you feel your support order is too high, we can help. We can take a look at the order and determine if there is a way to reduce or increase support based on the needs of the child and income of the parties. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.

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Why a Child Support Order is Necessary in San Diego

Understanding the Importance of Arranging Child Support in San Diego

Child support refers to a parent’s financial support of a child’s everyday living costs, including the consideration of necessities such as clothes, food, and a secure home environment. Although child support is not the only way a parent can contribute to the development of their child, it is particularly important for many reasons.

Although you may be in an uncomfortable situation with the other parent responsible for the child at this time and feel as though you cannot discuss the issue of child support, it is important to recognize that child support can make a real difference to children, not only providing them with the clothing, food, and essentials they need, but also providing a steady foundation for both parents to remain intimately involved within their child’s life.

How to Properly Arrange Child Support in San Diego

Whatever route you take when it comes to caring for and supporting your child through the complicated process of a divorce or separation, it is important to remember the child support that you put in place will help to give them the very best start in life, as well as keeping them secure throughout the journey to adulthood. Child support payments are a legal responsibility, and most of the time, a large majority of separated parents quickly come to an agreement about the costs required to care for their children.

However, making arrangements after a separation can be troublesome, and you may find that you need help from an experienced  family law attorney when it comes to working out the fine details. This is certainly the case if you do not trust your ex and if there are communication problems between the two of you.  Since child support is based on the amount of time you spent with your child and the amount of income made, if there is a lack of trust it can make the process more complicated.  You want to make sure that each person is properly reporting all sources of income, this may involve issuing discovery to look into the finances of each person.

A large percentage of families decide to construct an arrangement between themselves, agreeing formally with the other parent about the type, and how much child support that one will provide to the other. In legal terms, an agreement such as this is called a child support stipulation, however if you find that you cannot agree or that there is excess difficulty coming to terms, there are other ways to arrange child support.

The Options for Arranging Child Support in San Diego

One option for parents unable to come to an agreement about child support arrangements is by seeking the assistance of Department of Child Support  Services or DCSS. DCSS is a service the government runs to arrange support on your behalf, however they will only assist the custodial parent who is the payee or the receiver of support. DCSS will analyze the figures and make a decision on how much the paying parent (non-custodial parent) should pay to the receiving parent (custodial-parent ). This amount is calculated using a standard formula which allows the service to work out an enforceable amount then collect payments from the paying parent to be passed onto the receiving parent.  It is always helpful to have DCSS involved with the enforcement issues because they can monitor whether payments are received or not and also apply interest to any arrears.

The other option would be to hire an experienced family law attorney to assist you with calculating support.  An attorney will be able to examine all the factors used to calculate guideline child support and make sure that all income is factored in properly.  There are different types of income and they will need to be applied differently. For example, if one party is in the military and receives BAH, this is a non taxable income that needs to be calculated as non taxable.   An experienced family law attorney can assist you with this calculation and analysis of income.

Do I Need An Order, Can’t I Just Come to a Verbal Agreement?

If you and your partner are co-parenting and have an agreement between you for child support, you must get it made into an order of the court!  If there is no child support order, there is no obligation.  If a payment is missed, there is no one to enforce this payment unless it has been made into an order of the court.  If there is no obligation than there is no need to pay.  It is important to protect your child and yourself by having any agreements memorialized into a court order.  An experienced family law attorney can assist you with preparing a stipulation to send to court.

 Minella Law Group Can Help!

 Whether you need to obtain a child support order, have an existing order modified, or enforce an order, it is best to speak with an experienced San Diego family law attorney at Minella Law Group. Your attorney will work to make sure that the court considers all factors that are in your favor when making its decision.  Please call (619) 289-7948 to schedule a consultation.

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Minella Law Group Can Aid in Your Child Support Needs

Both parents are responsible for the financial support of all of their children until the children reach the age of 18. If the child or children are still in school at the age of 19, and still live at home and are unable to provide their own support, it is up to the parents to provide that support.

The state of California mandates the amount of child support that is paid from one parent to the other. The amount is figured by the computer generating of the payer’s financial status. The parent’s income, the amount of taxes that they pay, the amount of time that the parent has with the child, mandatory items that are deductible such as health insurance and retirement and the custodial parent’s ability to earn and their income are the main factors that determine the amount of child support to be paid. Child support can be altered should financial changes occur with the parent paying the support, or if the time share between the two parents should change at any time.
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How To Prepare For Your San Diego Child Support Attorney

Develop a Plan

To make everything as easy as possible and save on attorney costs, you will need to develop a plan. Take some time to think about what you want to accomplish during your child support case. Come up with some goals and objectives. Do you have a goal of gaining custody? Or, are you willing to negotiate mutually beneficial visits for both you and your ex-spouse? Are you comfortable with your ex-spouse gaining total custody? Deciding these factors and putting them in writing can make your attorney meeting more efficient. Also consider items such as what you want your child support to cover. How much can you reasonably afford? Get an idea by using an online calculator.
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Navigating the California Courts to Collect Unpaid Support

When a couple divorces, one spouse is often required to pay money to support the children (child support) and/or the other spouse (spousal support or alimony).  Unfortunately, getting an award for support and collecting it are two different things entirely.

It’s up to the spouse receiving the money to make sure that the money is being paid and to take action if it is not.  Courts in California will not step in automatically.  If your ex-spouse isn’t paying, then you or your attorney can ask the court to deduct support payments from their paycheck; this is called “wage garnishment.” Continue Reading

Child Support Obligations in California

It was recently reported that former San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was $25,000 behind on child support obligations.  One of the mothers of Cromartie’s children filed a document with the court that prevented him from selling any property without first being current on his child support.  Cromartie has since caught up on his obligations after being traded to the New York Jets and receiving a $500,000 advance on his contract.

It is now more expensive than ever to raise a child.  The cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 18 is estimated to range from $180,000-$250,000.  As a child gets older, the expenses rise.  Older children are often involved in extra-curricular activities like music, dance, or sports.  If parents wish to pay for a child’s college education, this can easily add another $50,000 in expenses. Continue Reading

When Can a Judge Impute Income to an Unemployed Parent? Understanding How California Family Courts Calculate Child Support

Hard financial times are still troubling many parents in California who have been laid off from their jobs.  The Associated Press reports in the Los Angeles Times that nationally, new jobless claims have recently risen higher than expected, although California has fortunately seen some decreases.  For many of these parents who owe child support, the question is, when unemployment benefits end, will that parent be excused from paying the support until a new job is found?  On the other hand, if the paying parent is lucky enough to be in a better financial position than when the child support was first ordered, will that parent automatically pay more now to support his or her child?  The short answer in either case is no, and will continue to be no, unless and until one of the parent’s gets the child support order modified in family courtContinue Reading

The Looming Threat of Contempt: How Far Can the Court Go in Enforcing Your San Diego Family Law Order?

If a California family court order is disobeyed, there are many different ways to compel compliance, but can a person be jailed if, for example, child support isn’t paid?  Through the court’s “contempt power,” many family court orders that have been violated can potentially be punished with jail time.  On the other hand, the U.S. and California constitutions protect people from being put in jail just for having unpaid debts.  In the case of spousal support (alimony) or child support, even though money is owed, the payments are not seen as “debts” because they arise from legal obligations created when you have children or get married, which is why jail can be imposed for willfully violating the court order.  Continue Reading

Is it Time to Modify Your Child Support? When Circumstances Change After Your San Diego Divorce

Just recently, an AP article published in the San Diego Union Tribune reports that for a middle-income family, a child born in 2008 will cost (in current dollars) about $221,000 to raise through age 17.  When adjusted for inflation, this figure jumps to an estimated $292,000, as forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.  Their annual report helps state governments and courts determine child support guidelines.

Even without reading the report, you know that raising children is expensive and always a challenge, but for divorced parents, child support can create additional concerns.  For example, what happens when a parent’s income grows, or if a parent loses a job?  Continue Reading