When parents split up, the last thing you want is to make it any harder for your children. In this guide, you will discover what every parent should know about child support in California whether you are getting divorced or dissolving a domestic partnership.
The Basics of Child Support
California Family Code 4053 lays out that the first and foremost concern is to support the child. Even though their parents have parted ways, children must still benefit from the financial backing of both parents, exactly as they would have if the parties were still together.
Therefore, the responsibility applies to both parents and the cost of raising a child is divided between both parents. A formula is used based on each parent’s income, their individual ability, and time spent with the child. Child support is figured based both on income and on the number of overnights with each parent.
Uses for Child Support
Child support in California is meant to be used for the care of the child and to maintain the standard of living the child enjoyed during the marriage. However, family law notes that child support is not for the custodial parent’s personal expenses. This is where potential conflicts can arise.
The child support formula is supposed to calculate a minimum level of support for each child’s needs. Once the child’s basic needs, like food, shelter, clothing, and mandated health insurance are met, other necessities are addressed. Childcare costs, out-of-pocket health care expenses, education, and extramural fees, and possibly college expenses are generally considered separately from child support.
Once you and your ex agree on the amount of support, your written child support order will be entered into the court record. If your situation changes, you can apply for a child support modification or through an appeal of your final orders.
Guidelines for Child Support in California
The child support guidelines are intended to lessen the need for litigation. Child support conflicts most commonly arise when:
- Parents manipulate the time spent with their child so that they can increase or decrease the child support order.
- Parents claim that their salaries are less than they really are to reduce their basic child support obligations.
- Parents refuse to find employment.
The consequence of not paying support can be contempt of court which may carry jail time. Ideally, child support enforcement should be dealt with as early as possible. Your local child support agency (LCSA) can help with collecting the payments and sending them to you.
While this article aims to guide you through the basics of child support, it is not a substitute for legal advice. Having gained some clarity by reading this, contact family law attorneys to discuss the best strategy for your unique set of needs.
Serving throughout Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino counties, Westover Law Group has extensive experience in child support matters. For more information on child support in California, contact our award-winning family law attorneys.