Are You Facing Child Support Issues in Orange County?
A child’s expenses add up quickly, especially when child care is involved. Child support is often a necessity for parents with primary physical custody of children. Family courts in California award child support using set guidelines, although many factors can play into a court’s final award.
Our experienced family law attorneys understand how important resolving issues of child support and custody can be. We always work to resolve disputes with as little confrontation as possible but are never afraid to be aggressive when necessary to protect the rights of our clients and, just as importantly, their children.
How We Can Help
Child support disputes typically arise in one of three settings: a divorce, a parentage action or a request for modification of an existing court order. Courts use set formulas, which are designed to give children the same overall level of support they would receive if their parents were living together in a single household.
Having an experienced lawyer by your side can help during child support proceedings by making sure a court has the proper information it needs to render a fair decision. This can include:
- Each spouse’s monthly income
- Health insurance requirements
- Child custody and visitation rights
- Additional financial support from remarriage or cohabitation
- Significant changes to either spouse’s income
- Tax deductions for child support
Whether you are beginning the divorce or legal separation process, or you have just completed the process of establishing paternity in Orange County, you will need to have certain information pertaining to child support. In California, both parents have a legal obligation to contribute to the financial well-being of their child. In most cases, the parent where the child lives most of their time will be the parent who is entitled to child support payments.
Establishing a Child Support Order in Orange County
In most cases, if you are going through a divorce or legal separation, the court will take all sources of income from both parents and put a support order in place. This court ordered support must be paid based on the terms explained by the court. To determine the amount of support which must be paid, the court considers the following:
- Income — the court will look at the income of both parents. In addition, if one spouse has remarried, the court may take the income of the new spouse into consideration. All earnings, including those from self-employment, tips and commissions are included as income.
- Custody — when determining how much support must be paid, the court will consider how much time each parent spends with the child. If one parent only has physical custody of the child for a couple of weekends a month, they will likely be expected to contribute additional financial support to the parent where the child spends most of their time.
- Parents expense — some expenses the parent must pay including child support for other children, union dues, and retirement plan deposits may be excluded from income calculations.
Parents should also be aware that while there are specific guidelines which determine how much child support Orange County parents are expected to pay, the amounts may be higher depending on the child’s needs. Health insurance premiums, cost of day care or schooling, and other expenses solely for the child may increase the child support required by the parent providing such payments.
When Parents Agree on Child Support Payments
There are cases where parents can reach an agreement pertaining to child support payments. This would require the parents to put their agreement in writing and present it to the court for approval. In most cases, if the agreement meets the California support guidelines, the court will likely accept the agreement between the parents.
Modification of Child Support Orders in Orange County
Once the court determines how much child support must be paid, there are still cases where either parent may request a change to the order. Modifications may occur when there are substantial changes in the circumstances of one parent or the other. Some examples include:
- Job loss or change to job with different income
- Change in custody arrangements
- Significant change in costs of the needs of the child
Parents should be aware that payment of child support is mandatory and failure to make ordered payments can result in serious problems.
Serious Consequences of Non-Payment of Child Support in Orange County
When a parent fails to make child support payments, a family lawyer can help you prepare and file a Contempt Motion with the court. The repercussions for nonpayment are serious including steep interest payments, penalties, loss of driving privileges, suspension of professional licensing and jail time. The parent who refused to make court-ordered payments may also lose their tax refund because the state may take steps to seize the funds to repay child support arrears. Parents who refuse to make payments on time may also face automatic payroll deduction of payments which are owed. The state may also impose liens on bank accounts and properties.
Understanding Child Support and Unmarried Parents in California
Parents who were never married still have the same legal and moral obligations to financially support their children. Once paternity has been established, a father has the same legal rights as a father who was married to the child’s mother. They also have the same legal obligation to make child support payments. Keep in mind, the court does not specifically tie visitations rights to the obligation to pay child support. Unmarried parents will have to reach an agreement pertaining to visitation, or they may ask the court to intervene.
Like married couples, the court will take a look at income and expenses of both parents and determine what amount of child support the father must pay. Remember, non-payment of child support can have a serious impact on your future since the payments are court ordered. Not only could you be facing a contempt of court charge, but failure to pay means the amount you owe can increase dramatically due to interest and penalties which the court will impose for non-payment.
Working with an Orange County Child Support Lawyer
You may think you and your spouse have reached a basic agreement on many aspects of your divorce or legal separation only to find that child support becomes a source of contention. While it is not unusual for child support to become a conflict point, you should always remember your attorney has your best interests, as well as the best interest of your child in mind. As with most other issues which are being discussed and worked out during a divorce, if you and your spouse cannot agree on a child support arrangement, the courts will put an order in place.
At Pedrick Law Group, APC, we have experience handling a range of Orange County child support issues. Not only can we help you work out a child support agreement which will be acceptable to the court, there are other services pertaining to child support we provide as well. Whether you believe it is time to request a modification of an existing child support order, or you are not receiving court-ordered child support payments, we can help. Regardless of your situation, we are read to help. Contact Pedrick Law Group, APC today at 949-388-8682 and let us put our nearly five decades of experience in family law to work for you.