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Child Support

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Fresno Child Support Attorney

Need Guidance with Child Support in California? Call (559) 900-1263.Child Support Law in California

You may be allowed to collect child support payments if you are granted primary or sole custody of the child. In most cases, the child is legally entitled to support until the age of 18, at which point child support payments can end.

In some situations, child support is an arrangement that is mutually agreed upon by the parents; otherwise, the court will determine the amount based on California child support guidelines. We understand how child support is calculated and can resolve matters for parents in Tulare, Madera, Kings counties, and nearby communities.

Interested in learning more about child support? Check out the links below.

What Is Child Support?

As defined by the law, child support is the ongoing financial expenditures and payments necessary to pay for a child’s living and medical costs. Both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children. The courts may issue an order to either one or both parents to make ongoing payments to their child’s custodial guardian to cover their expenses.

Understanding CA Child Support Law

In California, child support law dictates the legal obligations of the non-custodial parent to provide financial support for the upbringing of their child. While the laws are enacted at the state level, the administration can be a multi-jurisdictional issue if the non-custodial parent or custodial parent and child relocate. Most child support payments are ordered to be made on a monthly basis until the child turns 18 (in most cases) or becomes independent. If a child cannot be self-supporting due to a disability, the child support order may continue after they turn 18-years-old.

In most cases, child support orders are decided in connection with a larger family law case, often involving matters like child custody, separation, or divorce as well. This means the determinations can be impacted by the outcome of other parts of the case, such as custody or visitation plans. However, this does not make a child support order dependent on the other orders. For example, if the custodial parent refuses to allow the non-custodial parent visitation time, that does not nullify the child support order—the non-custodial parent must still pay if they don’t want to face legal consequences or be held in contempt of court.

As with other family law decrees, a child support order may be modified when circumstances call for it.

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How to Obtain a Child Support Order Child Support Cases

Requesting child support is a simple process. If you are already involved in a family law case (child custody, divorce, separation agreement, etc.), all you need to do is file a petition for support with the court. If there isn’t any other case opened, you will file a similar petition but will need to make sure you initiate the case correctly and within the court with the right jurisdiction over your case. The custodial or non-custodial parent may request a child support order be issued.

Each parent will be required to provide information on income, expenses, tax liability, and various other factors to assist with the court’s calculations. This will create a “presumptive” monthly payment amount, or a base for the court to work off of. The actual amount may fluctuate depending on the unique circumstances.

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How Is Child Support Calculated in California?

Wondering how California calculates child support? Child support guidelines apply to all cases involving parental separation—regardless of whether the parents are separated or divorced. Since child support is intended to give the custodial parent needed financial resources to raise the child, it is important that the payments be calculated fairly for both parties.

The factors that the court will use to calculate child support include:

  • Number of children
  • Net disposable income of each parent
  • Time child spends with each parent
  • Each parent’s tax liability
  • Any special health costs of the child
  • All other relevant costs

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What Can I Spend Child Support On?

Many parents often have questions about what expenses child support is meant to cover. Is it only for the bare necessities, or can child support payments include costs of summer camps, dental care, and everything in between? While the expenses covered by your child support order will vary depending on your specific case, the potential coverage may be broader than you think.

Some of the expenses that may be covered by child support include:

  • Basic necessities (food, clothes, shelter, rent, etc.)
  • Daycare or child care assistance
  • Health insurance and medical care
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses such as co-pays, deductibles, etc.
  • Transportation and travel expenses
  • Extracurricular activities such as entertainment, outings, trip to the movies, and other appropriate activities
  • Educational or special needs costs, including tuition, lunch money, tutoring, etc.

During an initial case evaluation, our skilled family law attorneys can help you determine the possible child support arrangement that will be required of you or the other parent.

How Long Do Child Support Orders Last?

Parents have a duty to pay for child support until their children reach age 18. There are some exceptions to this rule. Parents will no longer have to pay child support if their child is legally emancipated through a court order, a valid marriage, or military service. If a child is still in high school and is not self-supporting by the time they turn 18, support can extend until the child’s 19th birthday or until they complete 12th grade, whichever comes first. Parents have a duty to provide support for children of all ages who become disabled and are unable to secure a means to live.

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How To Calculate Child Support If You Are Self-Employed

When you are self-employed, calculating child support may seem more intimidating and complicated. Conducting financial analysis can be difficult, especially if your paychecks vary from month to month, let alone week to week. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a consultant, or in the entertainment industry, it is important to understand your financial situation in relation to child support.

A self-employed parent will need to correctly calculate the following:

  • Office expenses
  • Home office expenses
  • Advertising costs
  • Wages

The tax return can help reflect expenses that have been deducted that a self-employed parent may not initially calculate as income. The more thorough both parents are, the more accurate the child support order will be and the less likely disputes are likely to arise.

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What About Child Support for Special Needs Children?Child Support Lawyer

While the typical age that child support ends at is 18, a child with disabilities or special needs may require support for a longer period of time—if not indefinitely. They may also require increased support for caregivers, higher medical costs, special education, and other additional expenses. Even adaptive equipment to make a residence more suitable may be partially covered by child support payments.

The court may find that a parent has a duty to support an adult child who is unable to support themselves. According to Cal. Fam. Code §3910, both the father and mother of a child have an equal responsibility to support the child—no matter their age—if they are unable to earn a living and are without “sufficient means” due to physical or mental incapacitation. The formula used to calculate adult child support payments is the same as any other child support payment for minor children. If the adult child has independent income or assets, the court holds the right to reduce the amount based on their discretion.

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Can a Child Support Order Be Changed?

After a divorce or several years of separation, your circumstances may change, causing you to require a modification of a child support order. We can meet with you and determine whether a modification is possible in your case and help you proceed through the steps to reach that outcome. It is important to not take any action until an official court order has been set in place.

Many different circumstances can necessitate a change to a child support order, such as:

  • Loss of employment
  • Reduction in income
  • Ex-spouse's increase in employment / income
  • Ex-spouse's remarriage
  • Adverse medical condition of the child

Keep in mind, child support orders can be modified as many times as necessary for the duration of time the child is receiving support. In most cases, this is until the child turns 18 years of age or becomes independent from their parents. This may vary depending on the circumstances, such as whether or not the child joins the military, has special needs, or requires disability care.

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Will I Have to Go to Court for a Modification?Fresno Divorce Attorney

You may be wondering if you need to go to court to enact a child support modification. Depending on your specific circumstances and the other parent’s stance on the modification, a court hearing may be necessary. However, if both parties can come to an agreement, the modification can be made without going to court.

Even if you and the other parent believe you can come to a mutual agreement for a modification, it is also beneficial to have a child support attorney by your side. They can help ensure your rights and the best interests of you and your child remain protected.

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What Happens if a Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?

No parent wants to see their child go without the support they need. While it is difficult to deal with a non-custodial parent refusing to pay child support ordered by the court, there are legal remedies for such a situation. The sooner you seek legal counsel, the sooner you can get to work on recovering the financial support your child needs.

When the non-custodial parent is not voluntarily paying child support, you can take action through the court system, a local government agency, or your own attorney to enforce the order. There are several different methods that may be used to enforce this civil judgment.

For example, the support payments may be collected by:

  • Garnishing the other parent’s wages
  • Seizing personal property or bank accounts
  • Placing a lien on real estate
  • Obtaining income tax refunds

Parent’s that fail to pay child support may also face penalties, such as the suspension of professional licenses, loss of driving privileges, or even jail time in severe cases. Our firm can help you enforce a child support order so that your child's welfare is safeguarded. If you need to learn more about the enforcement of a child support order, do not hesitate to reach out to our child support attorneys in Fresno.

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What Is a “Summons and Complaint”?Fresno Child Support Firm

A Summons and Complaint (S&C) is a request for child support from the custodial parent (in some cases, the noncustodial parent may send a support request first). If the receiving parent does not respond to the S&C within 30 days and an agreement hasn’t been reached, you are basically agreeing to pay whatever amount of child support was listed in the S&C.

If you would like to appear in court and have your case reviewed by a judge, you will need to complete the paperwork sent to you and file an “Answer” form with the court within that 30-day period. If you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to our Fresno family law firm!

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Preparing for Your Child Support Hearing

Overall, the process is pretty straightforward. The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) or the non-custodial parent will set the court date. If the DCSS sets the court date, both parents will receive paperwork in the mail indicating why and where to appear in court. If the non-custodial parent is requesting the court date, they must provide the other parent and the DCSS with a copy of the paperwork at least 30 days prior to the court date or else it will not be heard in court.

In almost all cases, both parents will meet with someone from the DCSS department before going into the courtroom. The goal is to help both parties resolve the child support concerns without having to go into court, however, you still have the right to have your case reviewed by a judicial officer if you want still.

What should you bring with you?
  • Tax return from past two years
  • Last three paycheck stubs
  • Proof of unemployment, disability, or any other benefits
  • Documentation of health insurance premium payment
  • Proof of timeshare or visitation with child
  • Mortgage payments and property tax bill if applicable
  • Any loan applications from the last two years
  • Completed Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
  • Other documents you've been told to bring

When you have to go to court to resolve child support, it can seem like an overwhelming process. If the ruling doesn’t go in your favor, you may be dealing with a child support order that puts you in a difficult situation. The good news is that you can have a child support lawyer guide you through this court process.

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Why Choose Our Fresno Child Support Lawyers?

At Arnold Law Group, APC, we offer caring representation paired with:

  • 30+ years’ combined experience on your side
  • Attentive counsel that listens to your needs and goals
  • Individualized legal strategies for your unique situation
  • Trusted by thousands of clients

Finding the right advocate to represent during this time can be challenging. You want a lawyer that can protect your best interests and the best interests of your child. That is what you get when you come to our Fresno family law firm. Whether or not you and the other parent are in agreement, you will need the skilled advocacy that we offer in order to protect you and your child’s rights. Arnold Law Group, APC is ready to help you navigate whatever complexities are involved in your case.

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Can A Child Support Case Be Dismissed In California?

California state law says that every parent has a duty to financially support his or her child. Child support may be requested by either parent of a child, or by the person that has legal or physical custody of the child.

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Call (559) 900-1263 or fill out a case evaluation to tell us how we can help you!