Divorce brings with it complex emotions and personal struggles. It can be overwhelming to understand legal procedures and their constantly fluctuating regulations, statutes, and codes. This is in addition to figuring out a new chapter in your life. If children are involved, custody and child support are also important considerations. Find strong and proactive counsel in a California child support lawyer to help lead you through the legalities while you manage your family and life following divorce.
What Child Support Is and How It’s Determined
Child support is a continuous and regulated schedule of payments from one parent to the other, as mandated by the court following a divorce or separation. Both parents are legally obligated to financially provide for their children; either or both may be required to contribute money under the court order’s specifications.
The funds help pay the living and medical expenses of a child or children until they reach adulthood. It’s meant to be mainly spent on supporting the child but can also be used to improve the residence or living situation where the child primarily spends time.
The standardized installments are determined on a case-by-case basis. The expected payments and their frequency can vary depending on the age, special health or educational needs, and the revoked standard of living (following separation/divorce) of the children. The monthly income and annual salary of each parent also affect the child support terms. Child support can be negotiated during mediation, but any proposals must be submitted to and judged by the court.
Why You May Want a Child Support Lawyer
You may consider a child support lawyer in several instances or for a number of reasons. For example, if you have a past due payment over $5000, you will need a lawyer. This is considered a misdemeanor, and a conviction calls for up to 6 months of prison time. Lack of payments exceeding two years or over $10,000 is a criminal felony and necessitates fines and up to 2 years in prison if convicted.
A child support attorney will also support you in the initial proceedings prior to the determination stage and commencement of the child support order. This includes avoiding a costlier or disadvantageous child support commitment. Your lawyer can also help prepare you for child support termination or lowering a previously decided child support agreement through the modification of the set terms.
How Long Does Child Support Need to be Paid in California?
Child support does not automatically cease on the child’s 18th birthday, which is the minimum length of time payment is required and legally enforceable. Your local child support agency will continue charging you if any past-due payments remain or upon full payment.
Additionally, California law states if the child is over 18, still attending high school, and not self-reliant, the order remains mandatory until their 19th birthday or graduation (whichever first occurs). One exception is if said child is unable to receive an education or obtain work due to incapacitation, child support will continue to apply at any age. Outside of these conditions, the state cannot legally demand child support to be paid beyond the determined terms and the complete fulfillment of them.
When You Can Modify a Child Support Agreement
Child support modification is the process of renegotiating the initially judged terms of the statutory support order. There are many reasons a parent can request and argue the necessity for a lower monthly support payment and file the appropriate post-judgment motion. Eligible circumstances include changes in income, losing or gaining a job, the other parent’s employment situation altered, a change in custody/visitation terms, or an unexpected life event such as injury or incarceration.
Q: What Was the New Child Support Law in California in 2023?
A: As of 2023, the law pertaining to how child support payments are estimated has changed, particularly the relevant and considered factors. When calculating child support, the parents’ individual income, earning potential, home environment, literacy, and education are taken into account.
Additional considerations may include the terms of custody, the parents’ other assets, employment history, job skills, criminal record, and general health. Laws, especially those within family law, are unclear and ever-evolving, so it’s always wise to seek legal counsel.
Q: How Much Is Child Support for One Child in California?
A: The typical amount to be paid monthly can vary greatly due to the extensive list of factors the court must evaluate to appropriately and fairly determine what is needed to provide for the child effectively. On average, you can expect to pay $400-500 on a monthly basis in California for the child support of a singular child.
Q: How to Stop Child Support When a Child Turns 18 in California?
A: If the terms of your child support order have been reached, payments will cease if there are no outstanding payments. You must prepare any necessary documents and submit them to the court for review as proof.
If the support is private (neither parent uses a child support agency to enforce the terms), the state withholds wages. To end this, you must acquire a Terminated Income Withholding Order (FL-195), have it approved by a judge, and send it to your employer.
Q: Do You Still Have to Pay Child Support if the Child Goes to College in California?
A: No, there is no legal obligation requiring that child support be paid for an adult child pursuing higher education. However, if both parents agree that continued support is within their means and income, it can be planned accordingly with the help of an attorney well-versed in family law. Otherwise, the state cannot require ongoing payments following the child beginning college.
Getting Help Navigating Child Support Law and Maintenance
If you find yourself beginning the divorce or separation process, you may be overwhelmed anticipating the stipulations of child support, among other duties and fees. You may also be searching for new representation in the realm of child support after experiencing its complexities or looking into a modification of the order terms. In any case, put yourself in capable hands and contact a child support attorney today.