What is Child Support?

A child has the right to emotional and financial support from both parents. One parent should never have the financial burden alone to support the child. If both parents and the child do not live together, the court will order child support. There are many different scenarios that can make the process difficult, but with the help of an experienced child support lawyer in California, you can make sure that child support is ordered and that what is ordered is fair and in accordance with the law.

Child support is a way to ensure that both parents, although no longer in a relationship with one another, are financially responsible for their children while taking into consideration their ability to provide support. In most states and in most cases, child support lasts until children turn 18 years of age. There are exceptions made in cases where the child is still attending high school or is considered to be disabled.

When one parent, or custodian, is seeking child support, they may do so by pursuing the matter pro-se through the court system, by hiring an attorney to represent them, or by seeking assistance from their local child support office. 

While each jurisdiction varies, there are certain factors most courts take into consideration when determining whether or not child support should be ordered, and if so, in what amount. Some of the most common include:

  • The gross income earned by each parent
  • The number of children each parent is responsible for supporting
  • How much time the children under the order spend with each parent
  • Childcare expenses
  • The cost of health insurance for the child
  • Whether or not the child suffers from any sort of disability that requires extra expenses
  • Whether or not either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed

The court will also consider any factors that it considers relevant and impact the parties' ability to pay child support. 

When child support is established, a payment schedule is also established. When the parent ordered to pay support fails to do so, there are options available to the parent (or custodian) receiving the support. They are able to file a motion in the court to have the support order enforced, they may seek an attorney to help them, or they may seek the help of the local child support office. 

In most jurisdictions, the parent under the order to pay will be able to explain to the court why they have not made their payments. The court will consider the matter and enter an order, which may include jail time for failure to pay. Even when jail time is ordered, the parent under the order can avoid it by paying a certain amount towards their debt as ordered by the court. 

In some cases, there are remedies available to ensure the child support is paid, such as wage withholding and tax refund withholding. Another remedy is the suspension of the driver's license of the person not making their payments as ordered. 

If you are seeking child support establishment or enforcement, an attorney can help you locate the non-custodial parent and determine their ability to pay. If you are being ordered to pay child support, an attorney can help you ensure the amount of the order is fair. Child support orders are not set in stone and may be modified when the circumstances warrant a change.

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