Orange County Child Support Lawyer
Raising children with another person is never easy. But when you are each going about your own lives and attempting to raise your children together, it can be quite challenging. One of the biggest points of contention surrounds child support arrangements.
It is not uncommon for families to struggle over which parent will pay support, the amount of child support that will be paid, and making modifications to existing child support agreements.
Get help resolving your dispute when you contact a respected Orange County child support lawyer and family law attorney at Pedrick Law. Call our law office today for a free consultation.
California Child Support Laws
Every state has their own child support laws in place. But in the state of California, both parents have child support obligations to their children. This means that both parents are expected to contribute to the care and upbringing of their children. In the past, families might have assumed that the mother would retain physical and legal custody of the kids while the father, as the non-custodial parent, had visitation rights and paid child support to the mother.
But over the last decade or more, there has been a shift in the California Family Court system. Now, more and more families have shifted away from the traditional family dynamic. Parents are not always in financial situations where one earns a great deal more than the other, as they used to. These days, there are many different styles of families, each with their own way of living their lives.
With that being said, the parents of children are still obligated to provide them with financial support, no matter what their relationship to each other is. But that does not necessarily mean that a court order for child support needs to be in place. Here is more about when families might need child support orders, and the process for obtaining them.
Establishing Paternity for Orange County Child Support
In order for a child support order to be issued in Orange County, paternity judgment must be established first. In cases where a couple was previously married and may be going through a divorce, there is a presumption of parentage.
However, in any situation where an alleged father requests, they do have the right to a paternity test. Here, the child’s mouth will be swabbed to check for genetic markers that match or exclude the alleged father of the child.
Once paternity has been established, the Orange County family courts have the authority to enter child support orders that can go on until a child has turned 18 years of age or longer depending on the details of your case.
What Does Child Support Cover?
One reason why parents are often unable to come to child support order agreements is because they argue over what child support is intended to cover. Many parents will disagree over how the parent receiving financial support spends the money given to them by the parent paying child support.
The costs of child care and raising children are undeniably high. But many people fail to consider that child support should cover expenses that go well beyond the standardized “necessities“ such as food and clothing. In fact, under California law, there are many different expenses that may be taken into account when a child support order is being calculated. These might include:
- Education expenses
- Costs of college tuition
- After-school activities
- Extracurricular activities
- Travel expenses
- Entertainment costs
- Transportation costs
- Medical bills
- Costs of health insurance
- Other health care expenses
- Costs of medical insurance
These are only a few of the various expenses that may be taken into account when calculating a child support order in Orange County. Your attorney will carefully examine the expenses reported in your case to ensure that every expense is accounted for, and that neither party is being taken advantage of during this difficult time in your lives.
How is Child Support Determined in Orange County?
One of the most common questions that families have when reaching out to a child support attorney in Orange County is how child support will be determined. These days, the California child support guidelines system uses a computer program in order to calculate child support. This program is known as “X – Spouse” and it’s designed to take a number of different factors into consideration in order to determine a child support amount.
As a general rule, you can expect the courts to stick to these amounts unless specific findings are present. Some of the different factors that California’s child support calculator considers include:
- The amount of time each parent has with their minor children
- Both parent’s total monthly income
- Both parent’s net income
- Both parent’s total expenses
- Whether either parent has remarried
- Whether either parent has other children
- The costs of raising the children
- The number of children you share
- Whether alimony is being paid
- The needs of the child as a whole
Many families report concerns surrounding what is considered gross income. Under California law, many different items should be counted as part of each parents gross income, such as:
- Disability insurance benefits
- Both parent’s salaries
- Interest collected
- Rent collected
- Income from trusts
- Income from annuities
- Unemployment benefits
- Workers compensation benefits
- Income derived from stocks or stock options
Once the court has determined what each parent’s gross income is, they will need to determine each parent’s net disposable income. Your net disposable income is the income that you have after all of your deductions. Some of the various deductions that may be included as part of your child support calculations include:
- Mandatory retirement benefits
- Health insurance deductions
- Spousal support
- Job-related expenses
- Mandatory union dues
- State and federal taxes
- And more
Fortunately, the California child support calculation system is nearly entirely automated. This means that calculating your child support order may be less confusing than in the past. However, since every family’s financial situation is different, do not be surprised if your Orange County child support case becomes more complicated than you previously expected.
What Happens if One Parent is Self-Employed?
More and more families are changing the way that they earn a living. It is not unusual for one parent to be self-employed. But when child support issues arise, the self-employed parents’ income can become the center of discussion.
Where other parents may be able to use W-2 statements and other tax records in order to show their income, the income on a self-employed person‘s tax return may not adequately reflect their earnings as a whole. This is, in part, because there are additional tax deductions available to business owners and those who are self-employed.
But more than that, there are serious concerns in child support cases that financial records, controlled by the self-employed parent, have been manipulated in order to produce a more favorable outcome for the self-employed parent. If you are going through a child support issue with a parent who is self-employed, it is important that you have an experienced legal advocate by your side.
The last thing you want is to be taken advantage of when you are trying to access the funds that your child is entitled to as part of your child support dispute. Your Orange County child support attorney will have the experience and knowledge needed to reveal the self-employed parents actual gross income, and therefore their uncompromised child support amount.
Can I Modify an Orange County Child Support Order?
Although many families’ first time dealing with the Orange County Family Court system is in the pursuit of a child custody order, do not be surprised if you find yourself back-and-forth in order to request a child support modification. Under California law, modifications to child support orders can only be granted in very specific circumstances. These might include:
- One parent becoming incarcerated
- One parent losing their job
- Either parent having a change in income
- Either parent has a new child from a different relationship
- Child custody and visitation plans have changed
- The amount of time the children spend with either parent has changed
- The child’s needs have changed, whether through school, health, or socially
- Your divorce case has been finalized
It is not unusual for parents to be hesitant to seek modification orders. However, whether you are too busy to file court papers requesting modifications, are stressed at work, or have expected a sudden temporary drop in income, it is important that you take the steps to pursue your child support modification in a timely manner.
These orders are not available retroactively. If you need to make a modification to your child support order, act now, or risk being stuck with the previous agreement until your modification request has been granted by the judge in Orange County Family Courts.
Orange County Child Support FAQ
When you and your child’s other parent are unable to work together to figure out how to financially support your shared children, you may need to bring your case to court in order to obtain the child support order your family needs. However, you may have many unanswered questions about the child support calculation process, and what to expect from your case.
We have answered some of the most common questions surrounding child support in Orange County below. If you have another question that was not answered on this page, do not hesitate to contact our office so we can answer your specific orange county child support questions and concerns during your initial consultation.
How long is child support paid in Orange County?
There are many misconceptions surrounding how long child support should be paid in Orange County. People assume that inder CA Family Court law, parents who are required to pay child support will be ordered to do so until the minor child turns 18 years of age.
But this is not the case. Under the law, parents may be required to pay child support for a child until they reach the age of 19 if they are still attending high school and remain unmarried.
How can your child support order affect your child custody order?
As a general rule, the parent who retains physical custody of the children will receive child support from the parent who does not retain physical custody. However, if your family is able to work out a shared child custody agreement, where your children are spending equal amounts of time with both parents at both parents residences, then a child support order may not be necessary or appropriate.
But the amount of time that each parent spends with their children, and their gross income ultimately determines whether a child support order is appropriate. This means that your Orange County child custody order directly correlates to how much child support you could be ordered to pay or receive.
Will you have to go to court to obtain a child support order in Orange County?
Yes. In the vast majority of child support cases in Orange County, you will need to prepare to bring your case before a judge in order to get your child support order finalized. If you are able to work out a child support order with your child’s other parent, you may still need to have your keys brought to court in order to have the order signed by a judge.
However, in limited circumstances, your attorney may be able to handle the child support order on your behalf, without you having to step foot inside a courtroom.
What happens If the parent ordered to pay child support does not pay it?
If the parent ordered to pay child support fails to make their payments on time, and in full, they can face various penalties. First, you could be found in contempt of court by child support enforcement. Here, you could face criminal charges, fines, and even have your wages garnished if you refuse to submit your child support payments voluntarily. It could also have an impact on your professional reputation, your relationship with your children, and your child custody case.
Get Help From a Child Support Lawyer in Orange County
When you and your child’s other parent are unable to work together to devise a child support agreement, the state can step in and make these determinations on your behalf. Make sure you advocate for you and your children’s best interests. Our firm values the attorney-client relationship above all else.
Contact an experienced Orange County child support lawyer at Pedrick Law today. Schedule your free consultation when you give our law firm a call at 949-388-8682 or by filling out our convenient contact form.