Santa Barbara Family Law Attorney Helps With Child Support Issues in California
Divorce is always a difficult and emotional time in someone’s life. There are a lot of difficult and specific elements of a divorce and gets much more complicated if children are involved. It’s always best to contact a knowledgeable family attorney who can help with your situation specifically.
How is child support calculated?
Child support is a court order for a certain amount of money divorced or separated parents must pay each month to help cover their children’s living expenses. In California, the child’s best interest is the court’s number one priority. That is why the calculation process to determine how much child support should be paid is very complex. To figure out the net disposable income, the court will first determine gross annual income, subtract certain deductions and divide that by 12 for the monthly amount.
The court will look at the following factors:
- How much money the parents earn or can earn
- How much other income the parent receives
- How many children these parents have together
- How much time each parent spends with the child/children
- The actual tax-filing status of each parent
- Support of children from other relationships
- Health insurance expenses
- Mandatory union dues
- Mandatory retirement contributions
- The cost of sharing day-care and uninsured health-care costs
Parents are obligated to support their child until a child turns 18 years old except when the 18 year old is still a full-time high school student and lives with the parent. In that situation, child support will terminate once the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first.
Keep in mind, in some cases, the court has the discretion to order a child support for a different amount that what was suggested based on the guideline. The court can make low-income adjustment by ordering a lower amount of child support if a parent’s net disposable income is less than $1,000. Also, the court has discretion to make any adjustments based on the best interest of the child like:
- If one parent has an extraordinarily high income
- The parent spend nearly equal time with the children and one parent uses a much higher or lower percentage of income on housing
- The children have special medical or other needs requiring greater amount of support
There are certain child-related expenses that courts can add such as the mandatory health care add on or the add on used for employment purposes or to attend training necessary for employment. The court can also add other expenses for education, travel or special needs and will usually be divided between the parents equally. The best thing you can do is contact an experienced Santa Barbara family law attorney who can help with your case specifically.
Child Support Process
The child support process usually starts from either a divorce or paternity filing or through the California department of Child Support Services action. Regardless, the most important part is the income and expense declaration. If it is not complete, it could have serious impact on the child support request. Often, self represented parents do not properly complete the income and expense declaration. The most common mistakes include the failure to complete every section or leaving out the income verification documents. To avoid such mistakes, contact a licensed family lawyer.