All parents in California are lawfully required to provide financial support for their children. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide the living expenses of their child such as food, education, clothing, medical expenses, and shelter. After a divorce, marital separation, or annulment, a child support agreement is usually arranged.
Child support is a continuous and periodic payment voluntarily made by a parent for the financial benefit of the child, usually following the end of a marriage. Child support guidelines vary from state to state. You need to follow these rules depending on where you reside. But what should be done if one of the parents stops making child support payments and fails to fulfill one’s parenting duty to financially support the child?
In this case, you need to request a “child support order” from the court to lawfully impose a child support obligation. It is important to ensure that you have an open case with the child support agency or with the court. You may be required to open a new case regardless of having filed legal separation or divorce. If the parents of the child are unmarried, you are obliged to verify the paternity (fatherhood) first to protect the lawful rights of both the parents and the child.
After having an open case with the court, the next procedure is to submit the documentation required for a “Request for Order”. This is an official request that you need to file to the court. It is basically seeking their approval to make or amend the child support order and to summon the other party to show up in the court. You can submit your accomplished paperwork to the Lamoreaux Justice Center (341 The City Drive South) and pass it to the Family Law Clerk located on the 7th Floor in Room 706. A credible Orange County Family Law lawyer can help you in such filing.
Both parties who are on good speaking terms may be able to settle on a specific child support amount. However, there is still a need for you to present this agreement to the court through signing and validating a “Modify a Child Support Order or Stipulation to Establish”. This signed agreement must be approved by a judicial officer. California courts strictly follow a standard formula in calculating child support amounts, therefore, there is a possibility that your agreement may not be approved by the court if the child support amount is not equal to the standard calculation. The decision on determining child support will always be based on the child’s welfare and best interests. A reliable Orange County Family Law attorney will be able to guide you on the child support calculation.
The factors considered in the calculation are as follows: each parent’s gross income, paycheck, parenting time allotted with the child, tax filing status, total number of children (both together and from other relationships), health insurance costs, daycare, and uninsured health expenses.
If both custodial parent and non-custodial parent failed to agree on the child support amount, the judge will decide during the court hearing, the date of which was assigned to you in the “Request for Order”. The guided formula will be used by the judge to compute the child support amount.
Changes are bound to happen as we go on with our lives. There will always be at least one circumstance that will happen that can change our standard of living. One of the parents might lose a job or your child’s medical expenses may increase. Such factors might affect the financial capacity of the parent to pay child support. In case of any changes, a parent shall inform the court about the “change in circumstances” that may require an increase or decrease in the child support amount. There might be a need to modify the child support amount based on the changes that happened.
If one of the parents is not paying child support as specified in the agreement, you must contact and inform the Department of Child Support Services in Orange County. This child support enforcement agency makes use of different techniques to impose child support. The methods include wage garnishment, driving rights suspension, offset of the income tax refund, property lien, and referral to the California Franchise Tax Board or Credit bureau reporting. These methods can be enforced even without going to court; however, in case proven unsuccessful, the child support agencies may seek help from the family court for child support enforcement. Once the court found out that one of the parents has violated the order, that parent may be held in criminal or civil contempt.
Requesting child support is a complicated and confusing process. Child support cases involve the emotional and personal nature of the family law. No matter the circumstances, the parents must share the financial responsibility related to childcare and upbringing. A detailed parenting plan and clear child support agreement terms can be useful. Though there might be challenges during the process, the responsibility of the parents to work together will affect the child’s well-being and happiness. Every child has the right to be taken care of in the best possible way. Contact our experienced Orange County Family Law attorneys at Trevino Law will provide legal help for you as you request child support.