Obtaining a Fair Allocation of Support Obligations in California
Child support payments have a significant impact on the lives of both parents and their children. While the amount of support needs to be adequate to meet the child’s needs, the amount must also fit within a parent’s reasonable ability to pay. It is important to ensure that all relevant factors are included in the determination of support amounts, whether those amounts are being established for the first time or modified to reflect a change in circumstances.
At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our Certified Family Law Specialists and Associates understand the importance of child support orders, and work to ensure that the court considers all the factors that weigh in our clients’ favor when making decisions. We also know effective strategies for modifying and enforcing support orders to protect the best interests of your child.
Whether you are seeking support or being asked to pay support, we put nearly 300 years of combined experience to work to advocate effectively for your goals and your family’s future.
Factors That Determine Child Support in California
The State of California has established an online calculator to help parents estimate child support obligations. Because of that calculator and the apparently formulaic approach, many parents assume that child support determinations are automatic, so they think they don’t need help from an attorney when setting amounts or seeking modifications.
That is far from true. Often, crucial information is not brought to the court’s attention, so it is left out of the calculations. This can have a devastating effect. In other cases, a parent may provide incorrect information, such as hiding assets or underreporting income.
Each parent’s percentage of parenting time also impacts the calculation, so it is vital to ensure that your share of parenting time is fairly represented. An experienced child support lawyer can ensure that the court considered factors such as:
- Accurate gross income of each parent
- Payroll deductions for insurance, retirement, and other causes
- Childcare expenses
- Income from all sources including passive income and tax deductions
- The actual amount of time the child spends with each parent
- Any special needs of the child
- The child’s standard of living while the parents were together
- Circumstances that influence a parent’s ability to provide support
In addition, courts have the discretion to consider other factors when determining how much income is actually available for support. It is in your best interests to prepare and present persuasive evidence, and our experienced attorneys are skilled at making the most of available opportunities.
Modifying Child Support Orders
Either the parent paying support or the parent receiving support may petition the court for a change in the terms of a child support order. Generally, before ordering a modification, courts want to see that there has been a substantial change in either a parent’s income or the needs of the child. If the original amount of support ordered is below state guidelines, a parent can request a modification at any time. In other cases, a change of approximately 20% in the obligation usually provides grounds for a modification.
Parents often seek to have child support amounts changed if one parent experiences an increase or decrease in income or the amount of parenting time changes. While it can be beneficial to reach an agreement on a change out of court, it is still essential to seek approval from the court before making the change. The original order remains in force until officially amended by the court, regardless of private agreements worked out between parents.
Enforcement of Child Support
When a parent fails to pay support as required, it is important for the other parent to take action to enforce the order and protect the child’s right to support. Waiting too long can forfeit the right to collect. However, it is best to enforce obligations through official channels rather than trying self-help methods such as refusing parenting time to a parent who hasn’t paid. This approach can end up getting the parent owed support in trouble instead of the parent who has failed to live up to their support obligation.
The team at Holstrom, Block & Parke can review your options for enforcement through the court. It may be possible to gain support owed through wage garnishment or distributions from a pension plan or other sources. We help you choose and pursue the most effective option to receive support resources based on your particular circumstances.
Trust Holstrom, Block & Parke to Secure the Right Support for Your Family
Children are entitled to support from both parents. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, we work to ensure that both parents pay their fair share so a child’s needs are met and parents have the resources they need to move forward with their lives. We dig deep to find and present evidence crucial to the right child support determinations.
For a confidential consultation to learn more about the ways we can assist with child support, contact our team today.
Key considerations in determining child support include:
The information required to calculate accurate child support payments is very precise. If the wrong figures are used at any point in the process, insufficient results can be delivered. Having the representation of an experienced attorney who is familiar with the statutory framework can help to ensure that the correct level of child support is ordered.