Child Support

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Child Support

Child Support

After divorce, when a non-custodial parent makes ongoing payments to provide stable financial assistance for their children, the arrangement is called child support. Child support payment calculation is usually determined during the divorce process in San Diego. Establishing maternity and paternity are the sole requirements for requesting child support.

California’s child support laws differ from those in other states and are underpinned by a set of guidelines that courts use to calculate the appropriate amount of child support that the non-custodial parent should pay the custodial parent. The court generally issues a child support order along with a custody order.

Get Dedicated San Diego Child Support Attorneys on Your Side

Dissolution of marriage laws and related legal matters like child custody and child support can be complex, and it's best to work with a knowledgeable San Diego family law attorney. At Moshtael Family Law, our skilled and experienced child support lawyers will assist you in drawing up a custody agreement and estimate the child support amount you can expect to receive or pay once the court issues the order.

We can help you collect child support, modify an existing order, or defend against child support obligations. With a proven track record and over 185 years of collective experience behind us, our attorneys can provide effective legal representation that safeguards your rights in a child support matter in San Diego. Our child support lawyers can help you with:

  • Ensuring that your kids get the required financial support
  • Ensuring that your financial obligations and income are represented correctly and entirely in court
  • Modifying your child support arrangements to align with your new situation
  • Making sure a parent who hasn't paid the required child support complies with the court order
  • Representing parents who have fallen behind on child support payments and dealing with government child support services agencies
  • Establishing paternity or lack of paternity for custody and child support hearings

Parental Duty to Support the Child

According to California child support laws, both parents hold responsibility to financially support their minor child "in the manner suitable to the child's circumstances." Parents in San Diego must provide for their kids until they turn nineteen years old. If the parents have mutually agreed to support an adult child, the judge can enforce that agreement.

If the child is debilitated, there is no set age limit for the parent's obligation to provide child support. In some cases, San Diego courts may specify a future event, such as the child's marriage, as the end of the child support obligations. If the state, a governmental or private institution, or a volunteer takes over the child's care, the parent has to pay those expenses and fees.

When a judge orders child support and the county office requires a payment of fees and expenses to enforce the order, the parent may have to pay those costs. Registered domestic partners in San Diego have the same obligations towards their kids as married couples.

Each Parent’s Ability to Contribute to Child Support in San Diego

The responsibility of supporting a child is incumbent upon both co-parents post-divorce, based on their financial capability. Generally, the obligation towards the child is deemed fulfilled when the custodial parent provides the necessary support.

San Diego family courts may deem an additional contribution necessary to promote an equitable standard of living for the child and eliminate any disparities between the households of divorced or separated parents. Under certain restricted situations, a parent may assert a hardship deduction such as an uninsured catastrophic loss.

California Child Support Guidelines

How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support in San Diego?

  • Turns 18 years old, and graduates from high school. The child may still be eligible for support if they are a full-time high school student/attend high school part-time because of a medical condition, despite being 18 years old and graduating from high school.
  • Turns 19 years of age, or,
  • Marries, or is legally free in any way (such as joining the military) or dies
  • In addition, a judge can mandate that both parents provide ongoing support for their adult child with a disability if that child cannot support themselves

Income and Expense Declaration

Each parent must provide proof of the amount of their income and, under penalty of perjury, fill out an Income and Expense Declaration.

The Child Support Formula Used in San Diego

The family court in San Diego will calculate the amount each parent has to pay in child support. They will look at each parent’s "net disposable income.” It means the parent's income after mandatory union dues, taxes, health premiums, retirement contributions, mandatory spousal, or child support they are already paying, and the costs associated with raising kids from another relationship.

The judge will also look at every other source of income, including money, bonuses, commissions, tips, overtime, property and:

  • Self-employment Earnings
  • Employment Wages
  • Unemployment Benefits
  • Social Security and Pensions
  • Disability and Workers' Compensation Benefits
  • Dividends, Stocks
  • Rental Property Income
  • Interest Earned on Investments
  • Prize Winnings and State Lottery

The support order will also be based on the time the parent is with the child, which is referred to as "time-share." The judge will calculate the total hours a parent spends with the child. Therefore, the parent that spends less time with a child will have to pay more in child support.

Expenses Included in the Monthly Child Support Calculation

Here is a basic list of the different types of expenses included in the child support calculations in San Diego:

  • Monetary support, which includes food, clothing, shelter, housing, basic education, and various other essentials for the child
  • Back payments
  • Interest on the back payments
  • Health insurance

The court in San Diego may order, or the parents may agree to other payments, including:

  • Childcare
  • Travel costs for visitation
  • Unpaid medical bills, and
  • Extracurricular activities such as field trips, sports, lessons, and other activities

Can Child Support Calculation Deviate from the Guideline?

The state law presumes that the guideline formula used to calculate child support will be proper in individual cases. However, there are certain situations in which there may be a deviation from the guideline amount in San Diego child support cases.

Permissible Reasons for Deviating from the Child Support Guideline

If you seek to pay a different child support amount, you'd have to provide evidence to persuade the judge that applying the guideline would be "unfair or improper" due to extraordinary circumstances specific to your situation. Such circumstances include:

  • You and the other parent have agreed on a different support amount and have met the legal requirements for that particular agreement (discussed below)
  • The parent required to pay child support has a significantly high income and the stipulated guideline amount exceeds what the children need
  • One parent’s contribution is commensurate with the custodial time they spend with their children
  • Both parents have almost equal time with their children, but one of the parents has to pay a much lower/higher percentage of income for housing than the other
  • The couple has deferred the sale of the family home after the dissolution of marriage, and its rental value is higher than the mortgage insurance, property taxes, and payments
  • You have different time-sharing arrangements for other children
  • Your children have certain special medical (or otherwise) that necessitate additional support, or
  • Your kids have more than two legal parents (permissible under San Diego law)

Add-Ons to San Diego Child Support Obligations

Certain child support computations may necessitate payments supplementary to the basic guideline amounts. These add-ons are designed to enhance the well-being of the children and are typically divided equally between the parents unless the court mandates a different allocation. Add-ons may include:

  • Costs associated with childcare that are essential to allow either parent to maintain employment or engage in education or training aimed at upskilling themselves
  • Any reasonable expenses for the children's uninsured healthcare costs
  • Similar to deviations, a San Diego child support lawyer can offer further details about add-ons and their potential impact on a specific child support case.

Temporary or Expedited Child Support Orders in San Diego

If there is a disagreement between the parents over child support, the judge has the authority to issue a provisional order for the support payments. The temporary order becomes void if the parents reconcile and begin living together in the same household again.

A San Diego family court can grant an accelerated support order while it reviews and awaits a pending hearing. Typically, an accelerated support order becomes effective thirty days after serving all necessary documents to the obligated parent. The court also has the authority to make the order retroactive to the date of the application filing.

In cases where the obligated parent's income is unknown, the courts can mandate payment of the minimum amount outlined in the state's welfare laws. The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act outlines specific dollar amounts for the "minimum basic standards of adequate care," with a starting point of $341.

Non-Payment of Child Support in California

Failing to pay child support in San Diego is a serious offense with severe repercussions. Parents can pursue enforcement of support orders by filing a petition in family court. If a parent is held in contempt of a child support order, the court can impose sanctions, such as jail time and monetary penalties.

The California Department of Child Support Services can report missed child support payments to credit reporting bureaus. Individuals who owe $2,500 or more in child support payments may be prevented from obtaining or renewing passports by the US State Department until they resolve all outstanding payments.

Furthermore, the state has the authority to seize and garnish any of the following to fulfill a child support obligations:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Tax refunds
  • Disability insurance
  • Professional and driver’s licenses of the owing parents might also be suspended
  • Worker’s compensation payments

Since child support arrears cannot be altered, it’s crucial for any parent concerned about falling behind on their support payments to seek the advice of an experienced San Diego child support lawyer immediately to discuss a child support modification.

Modification of San Diego Child Support Orders

The judge in San Diego can alter/terminate a child support order within certain limitations. To modify child support, at least one parent must demonstrate to the judge that there has been a significant change in circumstances, making it necessary to get a support order. Ultimately, the judge will base their decision to modify child support considering the children’s best interests.

A significant change in circumstances can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • The loss of a job
  • Incarceration
  • A drastic income change
  • A substantial alteration in parenting time

Termination of San Diego Child Support Orders

In San Diego, a parent's liability to pay child support ends when their child turns 18. This age limit is extended to 19 if the child is still in high school. With that said, parents can make extended support agreements that provide child support through further education or a disabled child’s adulthood.

Frequently Asked Questions

I suspect my ex-husband is hiding some of his income to reduce his child support obligations. Can I do something about it?

Under the state law, the judge in San Diego is authorized to "impute" income to one or both parents, which implies that the judge will calculate child support based on the income they believe the parent should earn based on the evidence. This will occur if the judge suspects that the evidence submitted demonstrates that the parent has a higher income than they reported on their court documents.

In such situations, it’s a salient idea for the legal representative of the custodial parent to engage forensic accounting specialists or leverage a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) expertise.

Can a parent be ordered to support a child attending college?

If a child is not disabled, the parent in San Diego is not legally obligated to provide financial assistance to their adult child attending college. Stemming from this, if the parents agree to a formal court order that includes support for a child's higher education, the court will enforce it like any other child support order.

It's been a year since my husband and I separated; however, we haven't filed for a divorce. He hasn’t been providing any child support. Can I get retroactive child support if I go to court?

The courts in San Diego can only make a child support order effective retroactively to the date when the initial court document requesting child support is filed. In a divorce case, a child support order may be retroactive only to the date when the parent requesting child support filed the petition or response. Therefore, it’s crucial to file a formal request for child support with the court as soon as the parents separate.

Can my spouse and I agree that no child support is necessary in our situation?

Making such an agreement is not permissible in California. As per the law, both parents are obligated to support their child, and no agreement to the contrary between them can limit or terminate this duty.

You and your spouse in San Diego can determine who will be primarily responsible for your child's support. Yet, any arrangement that exempts a parent from the responsibility to support their child breaches public policy and is thus invalid.

Can I agree to accept a lower amount of child support than recommended through the state guidelines?

In San Diego, you and the other parent can agree upon a lower amount than imposed under a strict application of existing child support guidelines. You also have the right to return to court to request that child support be raised to the amount specified by the guidelines.

If my ex-wife just married a wealthy man, can I get my child support lowered?

The custodial parent's new spouse’s affluence does not typically warrant a reduction in child support from the other co-parent. Yet, the law does permit the new, wealthy spouse's income to be included if the kid will have to endure extreme and severe hardship otherwise.

Am I responsible for child support payments even if I do not have a relationship with my child? What if my parental rights have been terminated?

Yes, you must pay child support in San Diego even if you have no contact with your child. Remember that both legal parents are obligated to support their children financially unless your parental rights have been lawfully terminated.

In this situation, parental rights will be lost if another party wishes to adopt your child. The courts act in the "best interests of the child" and do not wish to leave the child financially dependent on only one parent.

Seasoned Child Support Lawyers in San Diego are Ready to Help You

Issues related to child support can crop up long after the child custody matter has been resolved. At Moshtael Family Law, we have the experience, skills, and resources to help you navigate through the maze of California child support laws.

With our legal team in your corner, you will have the right advice and robust representation at every step to achieve your child support goals. To schedule your free and confidential with a San Diego child custody attorney at Moshtael Family Law, call us at 619-639-9898 or contact us online.

Please call or contact our office online to arrange for an appointment about your case today.

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