When family law disputes involve children, child support is often one of the first things on the table for discussion. Whether you're a prospective child support payor or recipient, you may be concerned about whether you'll receive a fair outcome in your child support case.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our Calabasas child support lawyers can help ensure your child receives the resources they need to thrive.
How Does Child Support Work in California?
To obtain child support in California, the parent who wishes to receive support can open a child support case with Local Child Support Agency (LCSA). Alternatively, if there is already a family law proceeding, a parent can file a request to seek child support in that proceeding.
If the prospective child support payor and recipient don't reside in the same location, the LCSA will attempt to locate both parents. The party filing for child support can supply the court with documentation, such as the other parent's date of birth and social security number, to help the LCSA locate them. After a prospective support recipient opens a case with the LCSA, the prospective payor will receive a Summons and Petition packet letting them know they've been named in a child support case.
If both parents named in the case have legal parentage of the child(ren) involved, the case can proceed. If one party does not have legal parentage, the other may need to file a different type of court order, such as a paternity action, to instate legal parentage for both parties.
At this point, child support cases often move forward in one of two ways:
- The parents agree on a stipulated amount of support. Some local child support agencies allow parents to agree on an equitable amount of child support. The parents can then integrate this amount into a Stipulated Agreement they file with the court. If a court approves the order, it will be signed into law.
- The parents disagree on a stipulated amount of support. When the parents can't agree on how much child support the payor should provide, they must file a support order case with a county court. The court will then review the details of the case and determine how much support the payor should offer. After making a judgment, the court will sign the order into law, making it official.
If the payor refuses to comply with the support order, the recipient can work with the LCSA to file an enforcement order. The LCSA and courts can take various measures to ensure a payor complies with a support arrangement, including suspending their license, placing a lien on bank accounts and property, and revoking professional licenses from the delinquent payor.
If one or both parties feel the support arrangement no longer suits their needs after a certain amount of time, they can file a modification case to adjust the terms of the order.
Since the LCSA is a government agency, they do not always have the resources it takes to conduct investigation (discovery) into the other party’s income available for support. At Feinberg & Waller, APC, we can conduct that investigation and work with forensic accountants to determine the correct amount of income available for support and to advocate for the appropriate support order for you, whether the matter is pending with LCSA or in the Family Court.
How Much Does Child Support Cost in California?
How much a child support payor needs to contribute in support varies on a case-by-case basis. To determine how much support a payor should offer, courts and child support agencies look at each party's income available for support, and take into consideration mandatory payments such as dues and health premiums, and any other support orders.
The court examines all sources of income when determining how much gross income available for support each parent has, including:
- Salary or employment wages;
- Self-employment earning;
- Social security and pension earnings;
- Property-related income;
- Unemployment benefits;
- Lottery winnings, and more.
After establishing the gross income available for support, the court then examines the timeshare the parents have with their child(ren). As a general rule of thumb, the less time a payor spends with their child(ren), the more child support they may pay.
Child support arrangements can be flexible, and no two cases look the same. As such, it's vital to have an attorney you trust to represent your parental rights.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our team includes certified family law specialists and lawyers who have over 150 years of combined legal experience handling support cases.
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