Orange County Child Support Attorney
An important part of any child custody arrangement or divorce involving children involves the calculation of child support. Child support is based on a number of factors and can be modified as circumstances change for either parent. If you are going through a child custody arrangement or modification, do not hesitate to contact an experienced child support lawyer in Orange County.
Child Support in California
While child support obligations typically emerge as the result of a divorce, child support can also be implemented against parents who have never been married. California law provides that a parent of a child has a legal obligation to ensure that their child is well taken care of, referring in both terms of child custody and child support. Child support often goes hand in hand with child custody arrangements. The parent who is designated as the custodial parent (meaning the child primarily lives with this parent) will often receive child support from the non-custodial parent. Child support is an ongoing obligation for the non-custodial parent, regardless as to whether the parents were ever married.
Calculation of Child Support Obligations
Child support calculations take into account many different factors affecting both parents and children. Parents will often collectively come to their own arrangements regarding child support obligations, but California law provides precise guidelines based on income and the child’s needs. If the parents can create a plan that aligns with state laws, a judge will typically sign off on the agreement. If the parents cannot agree on child support payments, a court will dictate this amount.
Child support is largely based on the income of the paying parent. A formula will determine a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s monthly income. This amount can be raised or lowered depending on outside circumstances and on the monthly expenses of a child. A court will not consider extraneous expenses such as designer shopping sprees when determining the amount of child support, but will consider the lifestyle the child is accustomed to. A court will also consider ongoing tuition costs, healthcare, and any extracurricular activities which require monthly dues.
Child support payments may be modified over the years as circumstances change. For example, if the parents mutually agree that their children should attend private school over public school, a court may modify the child support agreement to increase the monthly child support payments for the cost of tuition. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parent loses their job, a court may modify the child support payment, either temporarily or permanently, depending on the circumstances. Outside factors, such as remarriage by either parent, will not affect ongoing child support obligations, regardless of the salary of the new spouse.
Can I Request a Modification of a Child Support Agreement?
As the parent paying or receiving child support, you have the right to request a modification of the original court order. A modification of the child support agreement could lead to lesser or greater payments depending on your needs and situation. If you are the parent paying child support, you might request a modification if you lose your job or your income drastically changes. If you are the recipient parent, you might request a modification if you believe the other spouse can afford to pay more, or if your child’s situation changes.
- One or both spouses have experienced a change in income
- You lost your job or had a demotion
- You or the other spouse has been incarcerated
- You or the other spouse has a child from another relationship
- Child custody has significantly changed since the original order
- The child’s needs have changed
- Another factor involved in the support order has changed
To request a child support agreement modification in Orange County, you will need to fill out and submit the required forms with the family courthouse in your county. If you and your spouse both agree to the modification, you will simply need to sign a written stipulation and submit it to the courts. If you do not agree, you will need to prove your change in circumstances. You or your lawyer will need to gather information and file a motion with the courts requesting the modification. A judge will review your case and either grant or deny the motion.
Modifications for Income Losses Due to COVID-19
Many parents are seeking child support modifications in light of job terminations and income changes related to COVID-19 (coronavirus). If this sounds like you, contact our Orange County family law attorneys for assistance. Boyd Law is helping clients with cases specifically related to COVID-19, including modification requests for child and spousal support payments. We may be able to help you fill out the proper paperwork, submit them to the courts and state your case during a hearing. Our lawyers can walk you through the modification process from start to finish in Orange County.
What Happens If a Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?
If you or your spouse is incapable of paying child support or has failed to meet the required payment amounts, the paying party could face severe consequences. Falling behind in child support payments is a matter the courts in California take seriously. The courts may hold the party that is in arrears in contempt. Being in contempt of court means the person may face hefty fines and jail time. Failure to pay child support can also reduce the person’s credit score and lead to consequences such as property liens or wage garnishment.
In addition to consequences to penalize the person for not paying child support, the California courts may also require the parent to pay a greater amount to the recipient. In cases involving unpaid child support that was due on or before January 1, 1983, the California courts will charge 7% interest on the unpaid amount (arrears). Cases before this will have a 10% interest rate. The paying party will have to make up all unpaid child support payments and pay the added interest. A judge cannot stop interest from building up on unpaid child support in California.
If you are the paying parent on a child support agreement in Orange County, never stop paying your child support without a court order excusing you from the responsibility. Even if you and your co-parent have a verbal agreement, it will most likely not stand up in court. You need a court order officially modifying the payment plan to avoid owing your ex-spouse back pay and interest. Speak to our lawyers for assistance with your modification request.
Orange County Child Support Lawyers
If you are in the process of determining a child support amount or obligation, contact the experienced Orange County divorce attorneys . Our Orange County child support attorneys have years of experience in handling all varieties of family law cases, including child support cases. Child support involves an ongoing obligation of payment to another person for an extended period of time, and before you agree to any amount, you should verify that this amount is fair and necessary. Contact our Orange County office today by either calling our office or stopping by for your initial free consultation.