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Child Support

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Fresno Child Support Lawyers

The divorce settlement process often involves challenging issues, and one of the most significant concerns is how the parents will navigate raising their children. The resolution of child support becomes crucial, not only for the settlement itself but also for the well-being of the children and their parents. 

Contact the Fresno child support lawyers at Arnold Law Group, APC, by calling (559) 900-1263 or by using our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.

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 the necessary expenses.

What Are the Laws Regarding Child Support? 

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 reach the age of 18. 

In most cases, child support orders are decided in connection with a larger divorce settlement. This means the specific details of the order can be impacted by the outcome of other parts of the case, such as custody or visitation plans. 

However, the enforcement of a child support order will not be 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.

How to Obtain a Child Support Order

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 have our office file a petition for support with the court. If there isn’t any other case opened, we will file a similar petition, ensuring that the case is opened in the correct jurisdiction.  Either 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 of each case. 

Call our experienced Fresno child support attorneys for help. We’re available at (559) 900-1263.

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.

How Is Child Support Calculated in California?

If both spouses are willing, child support can be agreed upon between the parents of a child. If they cannot agree, the court will determine the amount of child support to be paid.

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 court's determination will be pursuant to guideline formulas that take into account factors such as:

  • Number of children
  • Each parent's monthly net disposable income
  • Each parent’s paycheck deductions, such as health insurance, mandatory retirement, and more. 
  • Each parent’s tax liability
  • Percentage of time the child spends with each parent
  • Any special health costs of the child
  • All other relevant costs

The nuances of every case will be different. To get a more detailed explanation, reach out to our office. 

What Can I Spend Child Support On?

Many parents have questions about what expenses child support is meant to cover. Is it only for the bare necessities, or can child support payments include the 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 can be quite broad. 

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

  • Basic necessities (food, clothes, shelter, rent, etc.)
  • Daycare or childcare 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, trips to the movies, and other appropriate activities
  • Educational or special needs costs, including tuition, lunch money, tutoring, etc.

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. 

A self-employed parent and their lawyer 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 Fresno child support order will be and the less likely disputes are likely to arise.

What About Child Support for Special Needs Children?

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.

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.

Modifying a Court Order

After a divorce or several years of separation, the circumstances upon which the original child support order was based may change. 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 not to take any action until an official court order has been set in place. Even if both spouses are in agreement, it’s always best to wait until a court formally codifies a new support plan. 

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

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

We have a favorable record of obtaining favorable results in modification cases. While that can’t guarantee a future outcome, it can give clients peace of mind that their attorney understands the law, the process and works hard to get results. 

Don’t hesitate to contact our Fresno child support attorneys at (559) 900-1263. We’ll schedule an initial consultation so we can learn more about your circumstances.

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 court-ordered child support, there are legal remedies for such a situation. The sooner you seek legal counsel for child support in Fresno, the sooner you can get to work on recovering the financial support your child needs.

There are several different methods that can 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

Moreover, the failure to pay child support could result in any number of legal consequences, some of which include:

  • Invalidation of state driver's license
  • Taking tax refunds at the state and federal levels
  • Suspension of professional license
  • Freezing bank accounts
  • Adding interest to past-due child support payments
  • Imprisonment

What Is a “Summons and Complaint”?

A Summons and Complaint (S&C) is a request for child support from the custodial parent. If the receiving parent does not respond to the S&C within 30 days and an agreement hasn’t been reached, the non-responsive parent is 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. 

Preparing for Your Child Support Hearing

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 their child support concerns without having to go to court. However, parents do have the right to have their case reviewed by the judicial system if they deem it necessary. 

Parents should bring the following documents with them: 

  • Tax return from the 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 the child
  • Mortgage payments and property tax bills if applicable
  • Any loan applications from the last two years
  • Completed Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
  • Any other documents applicable to your case

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.

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
  • The earned trust of  thousands of clients

Finding the right advocate to represent during this time can be challenging. You want a lawyer who can protect your best interests and the best interests of your child. That’s the kind of lawyers you find at Arnold Law Group, APC. 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. 

Call today at (559) 900-1263 or contact us online to set up your initial case meeting.

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