Child Support Attorney in Irvine
Divorce is a difficult and complex process in any circumstances. When spouses have children, divorce cases are often more complex. Negotiations take longer and are more likely to become contentious. In addition to spousal support and property division, spouses must also determine child custody, visitation, and child support.
Child support is an essential aspect of divorce, separation, or paternity cases. In Irvine, both parents have a financial responsibility to their children. This financial responsibility is continued after separation by assigning child support payments. Although divorce and separation cases can be contentious, children still have a right to that support until they are 18 and sometimes past that point.
Child support payments are typically paid monthly from one parent to the other. This provides children with the same level of financial support and standard of living from both parents. These payments may be ordered by the court during a divorce or separation case, or they may be requested by one parent.
Finding a Beneficial Outcome for Your Family
A divorce or separation, especially one with complicated negotiations, can benefit from an experienced attorney. For over 18 years, the attorneys at The Goldberg Legal Group have proudly represented the interests of families in Orange County and Irvine in family law cases, including child support determinations.
We understand how financially stressful a divorce or separation can be and how support payments can relieve or worsen this strain. Child support payments are essential to providing for your children, but it is also important that the amount awarded is fair and reasonable for everyone in the family.
We also understand how difficult a separation can be on children. A longer and drawn-out separation is more likely to cause stress and uncertainty for younger children. By helping parents efficiently find the ideal outcome for their family law case, we attempt to limit the impact the case has on children.
Our attorneys can help you:
- Estimate your support payments.
- Negotiate support in a separation agreement.
- Represent your interests in litigation.
If you already have a support order but are unable to meet your payments or are not being paid by your co-parent, our attorneys can help. There are multiple ways to petition for the enforcement of a court order. An attorney can also help request a modification if either parent’s financial situation changes or if a child’s needs change.
The attorneys at The Goldberg Legal Group have a deep understanding of state, local, and federal family laws, and they use this knowledge to better represent your family. We are well-equipped to handle each aspect of your divorce or separation case and aim for the most beneficial outcome for you and your children.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Irvine?
California child support payments are calculated according to a specific uniform statewide guideline. This formula is listed under California Family Code 4055. This formula uses some of the following factors when calculating support:
- Each parent’s income and net disposable income
- The time that children spend with each parent
- The number of children that require support
This formula is intended to provide for the children’s financial needs, proportional to the amount of time they spend at each parent’s home. Because of this, the custodial parent is frequently the parent who receives support payments, as they have to provide for those financial needs more often. However, if the custodial parent has a significantly higher income or fewer financial obligations than their co-parent, the non-custodial parent may receive payments.
Is the State Child Support Formula Always Used?
The Family Code considers the formula to be the presumed correct amount, but it will alter it if given good cause. Family courts are allowed to alter the formula or bypass it entirely in unique circumstances. If a child has significant medical needs or other financial needs, or if a parent has a unique financial situation, the court may forgo the formula for a fairer support payment. Support payments can be awarded in divorce cases, cases involving the separation of domestic partners or unmarried parents, or paternity determination cases.
Other factors that may influence support calculations and the use of the formula may include:
- The earning capacity of each parent
- The ability of the paying parent to pay support
- The cost of child care and daycare relative to the area
- Tax deduction implications
- Costs of healthcare and health insurance
- Obligations of either parent, such as union dues, required retirement payments, or child support payments for other children
- Financial support that the children earn or receive from other sources
The family court considered these factors and more. When you need an advocate for your needs in negotiations or in court, work with a child support attorney. Your attorney can provide evidence of your financial needs and abilities to argue for the ideal support payment that will help your children.
How Long Do Child Support Payments Last?
In most cases, child support payments end when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school. There are some exceptions, which include:
- If a child is 19, still attending high school, and unmarried, support payments will continue.
- If a child is disabled, payments may continue after they turn 18.
- If a child is under 18 but is married, joins the military, or is otherwise emancipated, support payments end.
- Child support payments end if the child dies.
- If a child is over the age of 18 but is unable to financially support themselves due to a condition or disability, the court may order child support payments to continue.
An attorney can help you determine what unique circumstances apply to your family’s situation and how this may change the support payment duration.
What Expenses Are Covered by Child Support Payments?
Child support payments are intended to cover basic living expenses. These include:
- Food, including groceries and at-school lunches
- Shelter, such as a portion of a mortgage or rent, and some utility costs
- Clothing that is reasonable and necessary
The family court may require that one or both parents provide healthcare coverage for their children, depending on the availability and affordability of healthcare insurance.
Costs that are not considered basic living expenses could still be included in child support payments, but parents have to request that those expenses be included in the calculation. If parents don’t request that these expenses are added in, they are considered excess or additional expenses. Parents must split them equally. The costs that may be considered additional expenses include:
- Uninsured medical costs
- Childcare costs
- Travel expenses for the non-custodial parent’s visitation
- Entertainment expenses
- Special education costs
- Extracurricular sports and activities costs
- College tuition costs
To more effectively negotiate these additional costs through child support payments, you want the legal support of an experienced family law attorney. Attorneys have negotiated and advocated many child support payment determinations, so they know what costs are essential to a successful child support amount. They can use this knowledge and apply it to the unique needs of you, your co-parent, and your children.
Proof of Income in Contested Child Support Cases
In a contested child support case, where parents cannot reach an agreement through a separation agreement, both parents need proof of income and financial ability. This enables the court to determine their income, assets, debts, and expenses. From this, the court can determine each parent’s net disposable income to calculate support payments.
There must be concrete and clear proof of each parent’s income. Showing an extravagant lifestyle is not sufficient proof of income. Documents necessary to prove a parent’s income include:
- Pay stubs
- Federal and state tax returns
- W-2 forms
- Income and expense declarations
- Testimony from professionals or the parents
- Any supporting documents of the parent’s income
Tax returns are assumed by the court to be accurate. The other parent or their attorney may challenge this assumption, but they have the burden of providing evidence to prove that they are inaccurate.
Temporary Child Support Orders
In family cases, the court may assign temporary orders, including spousal support, custody, and child support. These temporary orders last for the duration of the case. Certain family law cases, especially those being handled in court, can last many months to several years. Temporary orders ensure that children and parents are cared for and provided for during this time.
Temporary orders do not necessarily reflect permanent orders that are awarded in the final court order. However, some of the same factors are used to determine temporary child support payments.
Not all family law cases that involve child support require temporary orders. In some cases, parents may have to request that the family court assign temporary child support.
How Does a Family Lawyer Help With My Child Support Case?
Separation cases involving children are legally complex and often emotionally difficult. Whether you are involved in a court case or are negotiating an agreement for child support, the process can be less stressful and more efficient with an attorney. Your attorney has dealt with child support cases before and knows the legal requirements and legal deadlines that apply to your particular situation.
When parents are separating through mediation or collaborative divorce, they negotiate a separation agreement. Parents can also determine an agreement for child support outside of court. Child support is one of the aspects covered in a separation agreement. Without an attorney, mediation is likely to take much longer. The final agreement may not be fully beneficial to all parties. Parents must submit the separation agreement to the family court for approval. If the court does not believe that the child support determinations are in the child’s interests, they will not accept the agreement, and parents must either continue negotiations or allow the court to make a decision.
An attorney can protect parental rights and the interests of children while a separation agreement is being created. Separation agreements made with an attorney or attorneys present are more likely to be accepted by the court because an attorney knows what legal standard the agreement will be judged by. Any mediation or negotiation is likely to be resolved more quickly when discussions are facilitated by a qualified family lawyer.
When parents are separating or determining child support through litigation, legal support is essential. Your attorney can represent your point of view and interests to the court, advocating for your financial needs and what is most beneficial for your children.
Modifying Child Support Payments in Irvine
The family courts recognize that circumstances for families change. Although child support orders should be followed and are enforceable by the court, they can still be modified. Most family law court orders can be modified after their finalization if there is a significant and relevant change in circumstances.
Child support payments are based on the income of parents, the financial needs of children, and custody orders. Substantial changes to these factors allow for modification of support. Modification may be appropriate for changes such as:
- Either parent lost their job.
- Either parent suffered a decrease in income.
- Child custody and visitation orders were modified.
- Either parent earned an increase in pay, benefits, or other income change.
- Either parent is disabled and/or has increased medical costs.
- A child’s financial needs changed.
- The family size increased or decreased.
- The paying parent is incarcerated.
- A child receiving support became an adult.
When a modifiable change in circumstances occurs, either parent can petition for a modification. The petitioning parent must prove the change in circumstances, such as pay stubs, letters of termination, or medical documentation. The court will review the changes and determine if an increase or decrease in support payments is appropriate.
What Is the New Child Support Law in 2023 in California?
New child support laws in California in 2023 altered the factors used to calculate child support payments. Courts consider additional factors when determining a parent’s ability to pay, including:
- The parent’s assets and place of residence
- The parent’s employment
- Their past employment and earnings
- Their job skills, education, and literacy
- Their age and health
- Their criminal record and other employment barriers
- The local job market
- Whether there are employers able and willing to hire the parent
- The income and earning potential in the surrounding area
- The parent’s record of looking for work
- Other factors that impact a parent’s ability to earn income
Determining support payments still focuses on the child’s interests and financial needs. These changes emphasize additional factors in a parent’s earning capacity.
How Much Back Child Support Is a Felony in California?
In California, failing to pay more than $10,000 in child support may be charged as a felony. When a parent is in jail, they are unable to continue earning money to pay their support, so the court typically attempts several other methods of collection prior to pressing charges. The longer a parent fails to pay support, the more likely the court will impose fines and criminal charges. If a parent is consistently not paying their support payments, the court may turn to civil and administrative penalties, such as:
- Suspending their Driver’s License: The court may temporarily suspend or revoke the parent’s driver’s license until their back payments are fulfilled. Other professional licenses may also be suspended.
- Withholding Wages: The court may require an employer to withhold the amount of support payments from the non-paying parent’s paycheck.
- Placing Liens: The court may place liens on the non-paying parent’s property, such as real estate, homes, or vehicles. A lien prevents the item from being sold until the child support back payments are made.
- Denying Passports: The court can deny a new passport or a renewal of one until the debt has been paid.
If you are not receiving child support payments from your co-parent, talk with a child support attorney. There are steps you can take to enforce court orders, including filing for contempt of court against your co-parent.
If you are a parent who is unable to meet your support payments, you need to request an order modification as soon as possible. Ignoring your responsibilities for payments will only make the consequences worse. Child support payments should not be creating financial hardship. An attorney can help determine if support payments were incorrectly calculated or if a change in circumstances warrants a modification.
How Do I Sue for Child Support in California?
If you are meant to be receiving payments from the other parent, there are steps you can take to enforce the order. You can file against them for contempt of court or an enforcement of child support. The court will schedule a hearing, and your attorney can represent you. Before filing these petitions, it’s useful to discuss the situation with your attorney. There may be other methods to enforce support payments prior to filing contempt or enforcement petitions.
Protecting Your Family’s Needs in Child Support Determinations
Each child support case is unique, and a legal professional is essential when determining what your child support case may entail. The Goldberg Legal Group aims for personalized and dedicated legal care that supports your family during this hard time. We want to help you support your child while ensuring that payments are fair and reasonable for the entire family. Contact our team today to see how we can aid your family law case.