Understanding Child Support in California
In the US, child support laws differ from state to state, therefore it is important that those in our state understand the specific obligations set out under California’s child support law so that you can be informed and equipped when facing court ordered support.
The California Family Code 4053
The above code sets out quite clearly what is expected from a parent in California. Here is a general overview:
- A parent’s first and most important obligation is to support their child
- This obligation is mutual for both parents and the law will look at each parent’s ability, income and time spent with the child to determine what is in the child’s best interest
- A child should have the same standard of living as both parents, this may improve a custodial parent’s standard of living in order that the child remains at the accustomed standard
- California law presumes that the primary caregiver already contributes a significant part of their resources for the child. This presumption can be rebutted with evidence
- California’s child support guidelines are designed to reduce conflict and lessen litigation
Although the above is a very brief summation of the law, it highlights that the child’s best interest is California’s number one priority.
Parents Who Frustrate the Process
California child support laws were designed to be a streamlined process, however, issues can arise that frustrate and delay the courts:
1. Artificial parenting: Some parents intentionally interfere with the other parent’s allocated time with the child in order to artificially increase their own time and therefore increase child support. This technique is also used by parents that have no interest in spending time with their child as they feign interest to prevent increased support obligations. This normally leads to ongoing legal action and repeated court petitions
2. Refusing to gain employment: The obligation to support a child is a mutual one shared by both parents and it doesn’t just fall on the noncustodial parent. Many people assume that the burden of child support falls solely on the higher income earner when it is designed to be shared by both. Some parents avoid their obligation by not gaining employment when they are physically and mentally able to do so
3. Concealing financial information: Some parents intentionally lie about their income, often claiming it is less than what it actually is, to pay less than what California child support laws require. This behavior does not hold the child’s welfare at heart and it is fruitless as the courts are able to gather the information and order back-payments
Child Support and Parenting Time
California child support laws place a direct correlation between parenting time (called “visitation”) and child support. This has obvious pros and cons.
It was designed so that the main caregiver of the child will have more child support as they require it. However, the connection between parenting time and child support gives some parents with poor motives the opportunity to use custody and parenting time as leverage for child support.
The three most common and most important factors when calculating the California child support amount:
- The number of children who are entitled to support
- The amount of parenting time each parent has with the child
- Each parent’s net disposable income
This is not an exhaustive list of factors but they are the main ones that will have the most impact on the final child support number.
Equip Yourself with Experience
Having a skilled and experienced family law attorney such as the one available at the Law Office of Landon C. Villavaso, California, can make all the difference to your case.
Our firm has extensive experience handling family law cases and we will always put your interests first and fight for your rights so that your case is presented efficiently, effectively and successfully. Call us today at (949) 257-5188 to learn more about how we can help you and your children.