The experienced Los Angeles child support attorneys at TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP, understand that child support is a major concern of many parents after the end of a relationship. Whether being asked to pay support or attempting to contest a support request, you should have a comprehensive idea of how the process works to understand the impact it may have on your case.
Under California law, both parents are required to provide support for their children until one of the following occurs: the child turns 19, turns 18 and is no longer a full-time high school student, marries, dies, or becomes legally emancipated.
For many couples who are getting divorced or separated, it is hard to know exactly how much child support is warranted, and this is typically calculated with complex mathematical formulas. The courts take into consideration a wide variety of factors when determining the proper child support amount, so if you are facing an upcoming child support negotiation, it's a good idea to keep these things in mind.
There are several components that California courts consider when determining child support obligations, including:
- Parent's incomes: One of the biggest factors is the individual incomes of the parents. The gross income is weighed from both the mother and the father.
- Number of children: As the number of children goes up, so does the expense for caring for them. The court will look at the number of shared children, and expand the support amount to accommodate that number.
- Primary residence: In the child custody negotiation, often one parent is named as primary caregiver, and this is taken into consideration when calculating support. Where each child lives for the majority of the time often dictates the parent who receives the bulk of the support.
- Non-primary visitation time: For the non-primary caregiver, their commitment to utilizing their visitation rights is weighed. A judge will examine how much time this other parent spends with their children.
- Medical needs: The healthcare needs of one or more children is always a factor in determining child support, especially if a child has a genetic condition, chronic illness, or other disability.
- Visitation travel expenses: If there is a considerable time or distance between the parents and children, visitation will incur expenses, and these can be weighed as well, to calculate a reasonable child support amount.
- Miscellaneous income: Many people draw income from a variety of sources these days, and a judge will ask to see any and all of it. This may include governmental assistance, cash payments, stocks/bonds, trust funds, seasonal work, self-employment income, and others.
Income Based Child Support in California
While a formula primarily drives child support, it can still be a contentious issue in divorce, mainly when there are questions about the true income of the parties. The role of an attorney is to make sure that support is fair and based on accurate data. Our Los Angeles child support lawyers strive to make sure that the child support calculation reflects the complete picture of the parties' financial situations.
For example, we may need to determine the actual income of a spouse who is self-employed or paid in cash. We may work with a forensic accountant to help calculate the accurate income or uncover a source of income not reported to the court. We may need to calculate an average income if a spouse's income fluctuates seasonally or year to year.
If a parent was unemployed but is capable of working to earn money, it may be necessary to impute income to that parent based upon their ability to earn. The parent who claims that the other parent has the financial capacity to pay child support, but is “under-earning,” must demonstrate their true earning capacity. Such issues often require the use of expert testimony from a vocational evaluation expert.
What Does Child Support Cover in California?
Child support payments don't just cover the bare necessities for a child. Food, shelter and clothing should be a given. Child support payments are also used for enrichment, or non-essential things that will bring betterment to the child's life in some way. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Afterschool activities
- Clubs or sports
- Dances, such as prom
- Field trips
- Application fees
- Medical fees
However, there are also a few areas of expense that child support payments will likely not be able to cover. Sometimes, extracurricular activities will fall to the wayside if primary activities are too costly even with the help of support payments. Additionally, these payments can't be used for anything that does not directly benefit the child, such as purchases of clothing, jewelry, or entertainment devices for the use of someone else.
Contact Our Los Angeles Child Support Lawyer Today
When your legal rights are at stake, don’t wait to consult a professional Los Angeles child support attorney about your case. At TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP, we are committed to promoting your legal rights and interests when it comes to child support. Once we have an accurate gauge of income and the other statutory factors of the child support calculation formula, our attorneys can give clients an honest assessment of the child support payment they can expect to pay or receive.
If you would like to discuss your case and receive a detailed review of what our Los Angeles child support lawyer can do to help, please call us at (310) 455-8364 or use the online form on our website.