Navigating divorce or separation is rarely simple and straightforward. The already complex process of divorce can become much more difficult when issues of child support arise. Both parents may wish to mitigate financial stress while ensuring that their child has appropriate care. For this reason, many families seek assistance from Los Angeles child support attorney Cheryl Diaz-Deptowicz at Diaz Law Firm. Cheryl understands how to most effectively navigate this complex legal process and uphold client interests along the way. To learn more about how experienced family law attorney Cheryl Deptowicz-Diaz can help ensure your legal rights remain protected with respect to your child, consider contacting Diaz Law Firm at (626) 261-0402 today.
How Does Child Support Work in California?
Child support – or court-mandated monthly payments for the care, maintenance, and living expenses of children – can be one of the most complicated legal issues following a divorce or separation. Under Section 3900 of the Family Code, both parents are equally financially responsible for their children, underscoring the importance of child support laws. These laws vary depending on the state and California maintains specific guidelines that are used to determine child support. The overarching goal of child support is to ensure that children remain in the same standard of living with both parents and to mitigate the differences in standards of living between both homes.
Using the guidelines of California law, the court will consider a variety of factors before issuing a child support order, including:
- Each parent’s income level: The net disposable income of each parent will be calculated by determining gross annual income then subtracting deductions and dividing by 12 to each monthly amount. When it comes to child support, gross annual income includes all salary and wages, income from the ownership of a company, and/or employment benefits (in some cases).
It is important to note that income is viewed holistically, meaning all commissions, rental income, dividends, workers’ compensation benefits, spousal support, insurance benefits, and trust income, for example, will be considered. Gross income, however, does not include needs-based public assistance benefits or child support payments from another relationship.
- The amount of time that each parent will physically spend with their child. The greater the disparity between time spent with the child, the more the actual child support payments will be. If Parent A has the child 75% of the time while Parent B has a 25% timeshare, Parent B can expect to pay a greater amount in child support. The parent who has a greater amount of physical time with the child will generally incur greater costs related to housing, clothing, food, etc.
When Does Child Support Begin?
According to the law in the state of California, the obligation of child support will begin when one parent formally initiates a case. There are several legal issues that can lead to an order of child support, including:
- Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage in California)
- Legal Separation
- Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (paternity)
- Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order
- Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children
When a parent initiates a case, they typically must also file a request for child support, which is accomplished through the Request for Order (Form FL-300) in California. In most cases, parents are required to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or becomes legally emancipated. An experienced Los Angeles child support attorney can provide further information regarding how child support works in California and the legal obligations of parents in the state.
About Diaz Law Firm
Diaz Law Firm was founded in 2008 by Cheryl Deptowicz-Diaz to help families restructure their lives and regain stability following divorce, separation, and other family law matters. Guided by core values of equality, partnership with justice, peace, and self-criticism, DLF stands apart from the competition due to the firm’s transparency and compassion. We understand the pressures of divorce and separation and work diligently to make the process as smooth and peaceful as possible for clients.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support
As an experienced Los Angeles child support attorney, Cheryl Deptoqwicz-Diaz has spent a great deal of time guiding parents through the child support process. Some of the most frequently asked questions that she has received include the following:
How Much Is Child Support in California?
In California, child support is calculated using a specific formula. The state provides a California Child Support Guideline Calculator, which offers a general estimate of how much child support will be in your case. It should be noted, however, that the court can order a different amount based on the unique circumstances of your case.
The formula that a California judge will utilize to calculate child support takes into account both parents’ income, the respective percentage of time that the parents spend with their child, and the number of children. In some cases, the courts may order a child support order that differs from the calculated number, particularly when it is in the best interest of the child or when one parent’s net disposable income is lower than a certain amount.
What Can Child Support Be Used for in California?
The amount and guidelines of child support orders vary from case to case. A California judge may include the following in a child support order:
- Expenses related to food, clothing, and shelter
- Health insurance
- Childcare costs
- Extracurricular activities
- Visitation travel costs
- Medical expenses
All child support cases are different and certain expenses can be added on or modified based on the unique circumstances of your situation. A knowledgeable Los Angeles child support attorney can provide greater detail regarding what child support can be used for in California.
Hiring a Supportive Los Angeles Child Support Attorney Near You
After a divorce or separation, child support payments are often one of the largest ongoing expenses that a parent will incur. As such, it is important to navigate this process carefully and ensure that your child support order is fair and equitable. Seeking guidance from an empathetic Los Angeles child support attorney could make all the difference in the outcome of your case. To begin the process of securing an ideal child support order for your family, consider scheduling a consultation with Diaz Law Firm or calling our Los Angeles office today at (626) 261-0402.