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Los Angeles Child Support Attorney

Determining Who Pays Child Support in California

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 in Los Angeles, California, are not tax deductible by the parent who is making the payments.

In California, if a parent owes more than $2,500 in back payments, they may face a criminal warrant. There is no grace period for missed child support payments in California. Parents will begin to accrue interest and can face penalties for any late or unpaid child support obligations.

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 family court

If both parties choose to go to family court, they will take what is known as “DissoMaster” support.

This type of support considers the income of both parties, the amount of that income that’s regarded as disposable, custodial timeshare, 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 in Los Angeles 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 payment listed on the parents’ tax returns.

In rare child support cases, the complex formula that California courts use to calculate child support payments will not result in an amount that feels fair to the parents.

For example, in cases of a very-high-income earning spouse, the child support formula may produce an amount higher than would be necessary to raise the child under the lifestyle of their parents.

In other cases, a parent may be neglecting their child’s needs during their custodial time, so their percentage of custodial time doesn’t match the amount of money they spend on their child.

What Child Support Covers in California

Child support is intended to help with a child’s living expenses, including 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. Both parties must consent if your child is interested in an extracurricular activity. If one party does not consent, the other must pay for the action and enroll the child in an activity occurring during their time with the child.

The Length of Child Support Payments in California

In California, child support continues until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever is sooner. After that, parents may agree to share the costs of sending their child to college. Still, unlike some states,

California does not guarantee that parents will provide children parental support through post-secondary education.

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

Allows Your Child to Maintain the Same Lifestyle

In these and other child support 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 change 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 child support attorney serving Los Angeles County 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. Contact us to learn more.

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 their parents.

Support payments should make so that both homes have similar abilities to provide for the children. In some cases, this may mean support payments will also be used to improve the lifestyle of the other parent and the child.

For example, the parent may use child support payments to help them afford to move to a different neighborhood or into an ideal home, providing the life and family that the child needs to thrive.

The residential parent may enjoy an incidental benefit while giving an appropriate lifestyle for the child, but this does not mean that the child support costs 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. Various factors may come into play and be considered should you wish to modify a child support agreement.

Parents can leave the courts out of their child support discussions if they agree 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 child support 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 a child support order, particularly if you are facing financial hardship. Any payments that go unpaid become “arrears,” which can lead to negative consequences.

How Our Child Support Lawyer in Los Angeles County 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 our attorneys can help and they understand the benefits and the drawbacks of going to court.

Our experienced child support attorney serving Los Angeles County provide our prospective and retained clients with information about the importance of establishing a child 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. Contact us today!

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 Our Family Law Attorneys Today to Arrange for Your Free Consultation at (310) 929-6411.

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