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When you find yourself dealing with the proceedings of a divorce, you will want to educate yourself thoroughly on the subject of Child Support and the best way to choose a child support lawyer. Whether you are the primary provider or the primary caregiver, child support affects both parties in a divorce. By definition, child support refers to the total sum that a non-custodial parent must pay to the primary custodial and caregiving parent on behalf of the child or children. This monetary amount provides parental contribution for a child’s basic living requirements, including food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and miscellaneous expenses. Payments are made from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent directly and are never made directly to the child. Child support is paid up until the age of 18, when the child in question is no longer a minor.

Parents are required to provide child support to their biological children only, and a court cannot order an individual to legally provide compensation for a step-child unless that child has been formerly and legally adopted.

How is Child Support Determined

Child support periodic installments and amounts are determined by trial courts, and the amount varies between each case. Factors that contribute to the determination of child support amount and payment frequency include a few factors:

  • The children’s ages
  • The specific health needs of a child/children
  • Specific and often special educational needs
  • The overall standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the family stayed together.

The court will make specific decisions for child support amounts based on both the custodial and non-custodial parent’s net monthly income that they bring in as well as requiring a parent to pay a certain percentage of their annual salary. In some situations, the court may also require that a certain percentage of any annual bonuses received be submitted as child support.*

Divorcing parents must understand that while it is possible to privately negotiate child support in divorce mediation, it is not possible for divorcing parents to reach child support terms entirely on their own. California family court judges must review all child support determinations to ensure they preserve the children’s best interests beholden to those determinations. A Pasadena child support attorney can help their client navigate divorce mediation and create a mediated parenting plan. However, ultimately, a judge will need to review and approve it.

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act

Without regard to marital misconduct, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act requires a parent to pay the reasonable amount necessary for a child’s ongoing support. Factors that contribute to this determination are a child’s financial resources that they have at their disposal, a primary caregiver’s available financial resources and the overall standard of living for the child had the marriage continued. The emotional, physical and psychological condition of the child is also carefully considered, as are specific education and/or health needs.

Other Forms of Child Support

Besides basic living expenses required for the ongoing well-being of the children, additional payments to cover expenses such as future medical or dental expenses, vacation expenses, camp or extracurricular expenses, and private school expenses could be other financial requirements.

Enforcement of Child Support – Child Support Lawyer

In an effort to maintain ongoing child support obligations, Congress created the Federal Parent Locator Service, which allows for authorized information on a particular individual under obligation to pay child support. In situations where a parent fails to comply with child support obligations, they may be held in contempt of court, suffering extensive fees and court costs.

Federal law makes it illegal for an individual to willfully fail to pay child support in certain circumstances, making them subject to federal prosecution in such situations. A violation of child support payment that is past due for longer than one year and exceeds $5,000 is considered a criminal misdemeanor and a convicted offender faces up to 6 months in prison. Violations that exceed 2 years of non-payment and $10,000 are considered a criminal felony and offenders face fines and up to 2 years in prison.

Is It Better to Get a Lawyer for Child Support?

Facing a child support determination without legal counsel is a bad idea, especially if your children’s other parent has secured their own attorney. Hiring a Pasadena child support lawyer to assist you provides several tangible benefits. First and foremost, you will not need to interpret and navigate complex legal statutes on your own. Your attorney can help you understand how California laws apply to your child support case and ultimately help you make the best possible case for custody and/or support for your children.

When you work with a Pasadena child support lawyer, your legal team will help you gather all financial records and documentation you will need to ensure a fair outcome in your child support agreement. Additionally, your attorney can help you prepare for the hearing and other proceedings and make the strongest possible case for a fair and reasonable custody and support determination.

If you do not hire a Pasadena child support attorney to assist you in your child support case, it could lead to future issues. You could end up facing a steeper child support obligation than you expected or the result may be one-sided in favor of your children’s coparent. If you are worried about ending up with limited custody and visitation rights while being obligated to pay steep child support each month, it’s best to consult an attorney as soon as possible about your legal options. Hiring an attorney at the outset of your child support determination is the best method for preventing these things from happening and ensuring your child support determination is fair and reasonable.

What Should You Not Do During a Custody Battle?

There are a few things all divorcing parents should keep in mind when it comes to their behavior during custody battles. It is vital for parents to remain focused on their children’s best interests and to put their personal issues with their coparents aside during custody determinations. There are a few things all divorcing parents should avoid during custody battles:

  • Do not try to interfere with your children’s relationships with their other parent. Doing so will eventually backfire, potentially damaging your relationships with your kids indefinitely.
  • Do not attempt to obfuscate your financial status to avoid paying child support. This could amount to fraud. Once discovered, it will not only injure your position in your child support case but could also lead to criminal prosecution.
  • Abide by the terms of all temporary custody and support orders as your case proceeds, even if you think they are unfair. Your attorney can ultimately help you reach more reasonable terms in your actual divorce agreement. Any failure to abide by temporary orders can have a significant negative impact on your ability to argue for custody and/or child support.
  • Avoid posting anything on social media, especially comments related to your custody case or anything that might run contrary to the case you have built. For example, if you are claiming child support due to limited income but post photos of you at fancy restaurants or partying at nightclubs, this will reflect poorly on you during your custody battle.
  • Be as active a parent as possible. Continue to be a part of your child’s life as much as your schedule and any applicable temporary court orders allow. This helps you not only prepare your child for the shift in lifestyle they are about to experience but also helps you lay a foundation for a solid relationship with your child once your divorce and child support terms are finalized.

Every child custody battle is different, so consult your attorney for more specific advice on how you should behave and what you should expect during your custody and support determination.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Child Support Modification?

Another important facet of family law that divorcing parents must know is the post-judgment motion process. Once you have a child support agreement, the terms of the agreement are not exactly set in stone. The court recognizes that unexpected life events can render an existing support agreement unreasonable or untenable. When these things happen, it is possible to renegotiate the terms of support order by filing a post-judgment motion for child support modification.

This is a fairly straightforward process, but it is still wise to have legal counsel assist you if you are unsure about the process in any way. The party filing the post-judgment motion completes the necessary paperwork and provides supplemental information proving the change in question and the suggested modification. The court sets a hearing date, and the parties involved have the opportunity to discuss the proposed modification. Having a Pasadena child support attorney assist in this process greatly increases the chances of a post-judgment motion passing.

Can a Lawyer Help Lower Child Support?

Some parents may lose their jobs, sustain injuries, or experience other events outside of their control that inhibit their ability to pay child support. When these things happen, a Pasadena child support lawyer is the best possible asset for adjusting a support agreement. Your attorney can help you file a post-judgment motion that explains the modification you need and establishes that the change is warranted and necessary.

Find Your Legal Counsel Today

A child support case can be one of the most challenging experiences of a parent’s life. Having reliable and experienced legal counsel on your side as you face this process is incredibly valuable. If you face a child custody determination in the near future and need legal counsel, a Pasadena child support attorney is the best available asset to you. Contact the Khalaf Law Group today and schedule a consultation with our team. We will explain the range of legal services we can provide and what you can expect from us during your child support case.

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