Typically, there are many financial implications in a divorce, one of which is child support. All children are entitled to child support until they reach the age of 18, and are not full time students in high school, or if they do remain in high school, until they reach the age of 19. Child support ceases when one of these circumstances occurs or the child marries, emancipates or passes away.
Child support may be at issue in your case whether you are undergoing a divorce, legal separation, annulment or parentage action. Child support is the amount of money one parent pays to the other to help with the costs of raising their child. In general, the custodial parent, or parent that has a more significant timeshare with the child, is the parent that will receive child support. This is because parent with a greater timeshare, is typically the parent that is paying more for the direct support of the child. However, this is not always the case, for example in a case where a parent with a higher timeshare percentage makes significantly more than the other parent. Additionally, parents can reach their own agreements regarding the payment and amount of child support as long as the needs of the child are met and the amount is in the child’s best interests.
Under California law, there is a set formula used to calculate the amount of child support that should be paid by either parent and this is called the California guideline. This is a mathematical formula that takes many factors into account. The details of what should be included in the calculation can be difficult to navigate, however, one can estimate the amount of child support owed by using the California Guideline Calculator. The court typically presumes that the guideline calculation is the appropriate amount of support to order. The court can only deviate from the guideline calculation in very specific circumstances.
After a child support amount has been set, it is also possible to modify or change the amount of child support ordered. If the child support set initially was a below guideline amount, a parent can modify at any time and without any change in circumstance. If the amount initially set is at guideline or an above guideline amount, then the parent seeking modification must show a change in circumstance for a child support modification. A change in circumstance can be a financial change or a custodial change. For example, if one parent loses a job, earns less or even starts earning more, either parent can request a modification of child support. Additionally, if the timeshare with the children changes, such that support would be different than as ordered, then either parent can request a modification of child support.
Under the law, both parents are required to contribute to the support of their children according to their ability to earn. This means that neither parent can simply choose not to work and receive support. If either parent is unemployed, the court can order a Seek Work Order, which means that the parent must search for jobs that would allow them to be at a reasonable earning capacity based on various factors such as their work history, education level, amount of time out of the work force, etc.
Whether you are the parent that should be receiving child support or the parent that is obligated to pay child support, at Argyris Mah, LLP our experienced attorneys can help guide you through the process.