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Child Support Attorneys in Los Angeles

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Child support is a payment made by the parent who has the child or children for the least amount of time to the other parent to help care for and support the child. It is tax-free, however, child support payments are not tax deductible by the parent who is making the payments.

What Child Support Covers

Child support is intended to help with a child’s living expenses.

This will help pay for items such as:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Diapers
  • Clothing
  • School supplies
  • Personal care items

It may also include the additional living space the custodial parent needs to pay in order to house the child (i.e. a parent has to have a two bedroom apartment instead of one because the child is living with them).

Some other additional expenses that may be included are:

  • Uncovered health care needs
  • Tutoring
  • Daycare

Extracurricular activities, however, are typically not included. If your child is interested in an extracurricular activity, then both parties must consent. If one party does not consent, then the other must pay for the activity and only enroll the child in an activity that is occurring during their time with the child.

The Length of Child Support Payments in California

In the state of California, child support continues until the child graduates from high school or until the child turns 19, whichever is sooner. Parents may agree to share the costs of sending their child to college but, unlike in some states, California does not guarantee that children will be provided with parental support through their post-secondary education.

If you have a child with severe disabilities, however, these rules change. Child support may continue on for the duration of your disabled child’s life.

Determining Who Pays Child Support

Child support is typically determined in one of two ways:

  • Both parties agree to an amount and payment schedule (if any)
  • Both parties go to court

If both parties choose to go to court, they will take what is known as “DissoMaster” support. This type of support considers the incomes of both parties, the amount of that income that’s considered disposable, the custodial timeshare, the healthcare of the child, and the tutoring of the child care that a party wants the court to consider when making a child support order. Courts can consider many types of income when using this formula, such as income from an investment or interest or money earned from a business; they aren’t limited to the amount of income listed on the parents’ tax returns.

In rare cases, the very complex formula that California courts use to calculate child support payments will not result in an amount that feels fair to the parents. In cases of a very-high-income earning spouse, the formula may produce an amount that is higher than would be necessary to raise the child in accordance with the lifestyle of their parents. In other cases, a parent may be neglecting their child’s needs during their custodial time, making it so that their percentage of custodial time doesn’t match the amount of money they spend on their child. In these and other cases, courts have the right to deviate from the formula-derived child support payment where appropriate. The parent asking for the modification from what the formula indicates will have the obligation of requesting the modification and presenting evidence as to why the formula-derived amount isn’t appropriate. When requesting these types of deviations, the help of a skilled, seasoned Los Angeles child support attorney can be invaluable.

Even if both parents share equal time with a child, keep in mind that the court takes both parties incomes into account. If one parent makes less than another, the higher income earning parent will likely be ordered to pay child support.

The goal of child support isn’t simply to provide the bare minimum amount that the parent will need to feed, clothe, and shelter the child. Child support is intended to provide children with a lifestyle that corresponds with that of their parents. Support payments should make it so that both homes have similar abilities to provide for the children. In some cases, this may mean that the support payments will also be used to improve the lifestyle of the other parent as well as the child. For example, the parent may use child support payments to help them afford to move to a different neighborhood or into a nicer home. The residential parent may enjoy an incidental benefit while providing an appropriate lifestyle for the child, but this does not mean that the child support payments are inappropriately high.

It is also important to note that stepparents are never obligated to support their stepson or stepdaughter unless the stepparent legally adopts the child.

Changes in a Child Support Agreement

Your child support agreement is not set in stone. A variety of factors may come into play and be considered should you wish to modify a child support agreement.

Parents can largely leave the courts out of their child support discussions if they are able to reach an agreement to modify the terms of their child support agreement. If both parties can agree, then all that is necessary is for a judge to sign off on their agreement.

If both parties cannot agree to a modified amount, then a parent may need to go to court and explain the nature of their change in circumstances. A court may then choose to make a temporary or permanent modification.

Some scenarios where a child support agreement may be temporarily modified include:

  • The child is facing a medical emergency
  • A parent is facing a temporary medical or financial hardship
  • The payer is temporarily unable to pay (i.e. because of an illness, a medical emergency, etc.)

An agreement may be permanently modified if:

  • A parent remarries and the new spouse’s income significantly raises that household’s income
  • A parent loses their job or changes to a new job with a much higher or much lower income
  • The needs of the child change significantly
  • There is an increase in the cost of living
  • One or both parents become disabled
  • Child support laws change

A permanent modification will remain in effect until either:

  • Support is no longer required; or
  • The order is modified at a later time because of another change in circumstances.

Do not delay in modifying an order, particularly if you are facing financial hardship. Any payments that go unpaid become “arrears,” which can lead to negative consequences.

How Our Los Angeles Child Support Lawyers Can Help You

Lavinsky Law prides ourselves on being transparent and providing parties with everything they need to know before they make a decision about how they choose to proceed. Clients leave our office knowing how we can help and they understand the benefits and the drawbacks of going to court.

Our experienced child support attorneys in Los Angeles provide our prospective and retained clients with information about the importance of establishing a custody plan, how it impacts child support, and how much both parties may be expected to pay.

Our goal is for you to leave our office knowing what you are entitled to, and whether or not you should proceed with a court hearing.

If you are facing a child support issue or have questions about modifying a current agreement, we are here to help because Brighter Days Are Ahead with the right representation.

Call us today to arrange for your free consultation at (310) 929-6411.

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