Orange County CA Child Support Lawyer
FAQ: When Can I Ask for Child Support in Orange County? When a child is born or lives in California, that child has the right to the financial support of both legal parents. When parents do not live together, or are not in a registered domestic partnership or marriage with one another, a child support order may be necessary to ensure that both parents understand and fulfill their legal obligation to support their shared child or children.
A child support order is usually a required part of a divorce or legal separation in California if children are involved. Having a child support order in place also protects both parents from intense legal battles later, especially in the case that either parent decides that he or she no longer needs to provide financial support.
We have put together a list of common questions that California parents may have regarding child support in California. Remember that while the information here is accurate, there is no adequate substitute for actual legal advice from a professional in your area. A lawyer will be able to provide you with the most accurate, up to date and relevant legal advice, and apply it to your unique case.
When Can I Ask for a Child Support Order in California?
Every child has the legal right to financial support from two legal parents. Either parent may request that a child support order be created, as may a Local Child Support Agency in California.
A petition for child support can be filed with the court as part of several different types of family law cases in California.
• If you and the child’s other parent are married or in a registered domestic partnership, and you have a divorce, legal separation, or annulment within the court system, you may also request a child support order as part of your ongoing court case.
• If you and your child’s other parent are not married or in a registered domestic partnership, and you are filing a petition to establish a parental relationship, you may also ask for child support at the same time.
• Whether a child’s parents are married, in a registered domestic partnership, or have no relationship with one another, if there is a domestic violence restraining order case in progress, child support may be added to the list of orders requested during the process.
• If two parents are married, in a registered domestic partnership, or paternity has otherwise been established through the signing of a voluntary declaration of paternity between parents who are not divorcing or legally separating, those parents may request a child support order be put in place.
In California, a Local Child Support Agency may also request a child support order on behalf of the child under certain circumstances. A child support agency may do so in one of the following situations.
• If either party has been receiving public assistance, the Local Child Support Agency will automatically file a child support against the noncustodial parent, including the custodial parent as a party to the case.
• Either parent can request that the Local Child Support Agency assists with the creation of a child support order.
• When a child is placed in foster care, the Local Child Support Agency may file a case to collect support from one or both parents.
If you have questions about when and how you can file a child support case, you should contact a child support attorney in your area.
How is Child Support Calculated in California?
California child support is calculated according to a specific formula, called a child support guideline. Many factors are included, such as the following:
• The earnings of each parent,
• The potential earnings of each parent,
• The number of children the two parents share,
• The amount of time that the child spends with each parent,
• Any financial support the child receives from other relationships,
• Health expenses, including insurance, for the child,
• The parents’ tax filing status,
• Mandatory expenses of both parents,
• The expenses of maintaining the child’s life,
• Other factors may also be included.
Child support can vary for each child, family, and family situation. Other variables may affect the child support order, and your lawyer can help you understand how to make the most of California’s child support laws.
What Does Child Support Pay For?
In California, child support is intended to pay for a child’s needs and lifestyle. This can include many things, including these:
• The child’s home,
• The child’s education,
• The child’s health care,
• The child’s extracurricular activities,
• Childcare so that a parent can get to work or school,
• The cost of traveling from one parent to the other,
• Other things that the child may need.
When Can I Change or Terminate a Child Support Order?
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to modify an existing child support order. This can usually be arranged if there a significant change in circumstances has occurred; for example, if the needs of either the parent or the child has changed, and the recalculation of child support according to the California guideline would be different from the calculation that took place to create the existing support order.
Usually, this happens as the child grows and his or her needs change, or if there is a change in the health of the child, or if the parents’ income changes due to job loss, incarceration, or a promotion.
When you ask the court to modify your child support order, the new decision will be made based on a calculation according to the current situation.
Child support usually ends when a child either turns 18 or graduates from high school. If the child is still a full time high school student at the age of 18, child support may last until the child turns 19.
Child support can also end when a child marries or enters a registered domestic partnership, joins the military, is emancipated, or dies. If a child is disabled and unable to support him or herself, the court may order that the parents continue to support the child beyond these situations.
What is a Local Child Support Agency? How Can it Help Me?
In California, the Department of Child Support Services has a local child support agency in every county. These agencies are meant to assist families with their daily needs regarding children and family law.
A child support agency can help with several things involving children in family law.
• Establishing a child support order,
• Modifying a child support order,
• Enforcing a child support order,
• Establishing parentage,
• Finding parents, and
• Assisting with medical support orders.
What if One Parent Falls Behind on Payments, or Stops Paying Child Support?
If the parent who owes child support fails to pay on time or in full, he or she may have to face the consequences, including interest on past due support.
If you are falling behind in payments, you may want to apply to have your child support order modified. Keep in mind that the existing child support order can be legally enforced until it has been modified by a judge - so if your income decreases or if you are otherwise unable to pay, contact a lawyer as soon as you can.
If you are owed child support, you can put a wage garnishment into place, or reinstate one that was previously in place. You may also file to have the other parent held in contempt of a court order, but this is an extreme consequence and is usually only used in specific cases.
What if the Other Parent is Not Following a Child Custody Order? Do I Still Owe Support?
Failure to follow a child custody order is never a reason to stop paying child support. Although the amount of time that each parent spends can be a factor in determining the amount of child support owed, both the existing child support order and the existing child custody order can be legally enforced as they are until they have been legally modified.
In fact, failing to pay child support for any reason may be a factor in lowering the amount of time you can spend with your child. It is always best to put your child’s needs before your own. If your child’s other parent is not following the terms of the court order, contact an attorney to discuss the potential modification of your court order, or taking action against the other parent.
California Child Support Lawyer
If you have questions about your child support order, or if you are unsure how to proceed either with the creation, modification, or enforcement of your order, contact a southern California child support attorney. Your attorney can help you understand how to take the actions described in this post if they are right for you. At Yanez & Associates, we offer free initial consultations to new and potential clients. Contact us today to schedule yours.