Establish a Fair Agreement with a Stockton Child Support Lawyer
Child support is one of the many complex legal issues associated with family law and the divorce process. Legal matters relating to your children should be treated with special consideration as they can have long-term effects and consequences. A Stockton child support lawyer at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP, can provide strong representation and help you work toward an amicable solution. Our cohesive legal team is dedicated to providing our clients with the best advice for their family’s circumstances. We will always put your best interests at the forefront of all decisions and are confident that we can help you reach a positive resolution.
What is Child Support?
Child support is the amount of money a noncustodial parent must pay to a custodial parent to help cover the costs of raising their children. In joint custody cases, either both parents or in some cases, the parent with the higher income, may be required to pay child support. The purpose of these payments is to provide for food, clothing, medical care, education, and other living expenses of the child. Child support is not a permanent arrangement, as it is generally only required until the child turns 18 or when the child becomes self-supporting. However, parents can agree to extend support depending on the child’s needs.
Our Stockton Child Support Lawyer Outlines the California Law
California law states that it is every parent’s responsibility to financially support his or her children. Both parents must sign a stipulation, or written agreement, that establishes the terms and amount of child support, which must then be approved and signed by a judge. The state has measures in place to enforce the terms of your agreement and will assist any parent in collecting monies owed. One of our child support attorneys can assist both parties in reaching an agreement and ensure payments are made.
Aspects That May Affect Payment Amount
In the state of California, parents must agree upon a payment amount as determined by the state’s child support guidelines. This amount of child support owed depends upon both parents’ net disposable income which takes into consideration:
- Unemployment benefits
- Social Security benefits
- Spousal support
You may also deduct taxes, health insurance premiums, mandatory union dues, and other expenses. Situational factors can also affect child support payment, including:
- Amount of time the child spends at each residence
- Number of children who need support
- Daycare and travel costs
- Costs of raising children from a previous relationship
Changing your child support agreement may be an option if the noncustodial parent loses his or her job, has another child, or is no longer able to afford the payment. With the help of a Stockton child support lawyer, the parents may agree to a higher or lower amount than what is suggested by the guideline, as long as this amount is approved by a judge. Calculating the appropriate amount of child support can be difficult. To ensure you are calculating the correct amount and do not incur financial hardship, you should consult a professional.
How is Child Support Calculated in California?
In California, judges must follow the child support guidelines, though they are allowed to exercise limited discretion (under certain circumstances).
Fundamentally, the guidelines provide that:
- both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children,
- there is a presumption that the guideline amount is correct, and
- the child support award must be sufficient and payments must be timely, and it must reflect the higher cost of living in California (as compared to the rest of the country).
The Mathematical Formula for Determining Child Support Payments
The formula for child support in California is as follows:
Child Support Amount = Combined Parental Income * (Monthly Disposable Income of the Higher Earning Parent – (Percentage of Custodial Time Allocated to the Higher Earning Parent * Net Monthly Disposable Income of Both Parents))
It can be a complicated formula, but the state provides a number of online calculators to help you determine a possible figure.
What Is Considered “Income” for Child Support Purposes?
The non-custodial parent’s income is taken into account when calculating the precise amount he or she must pay to the custodial parent in child support. “Income” for this purpose includes:
- Investment income
- Income from proprietorship of a business
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Disability insurance benefits
- Social Security benefits
- Spousal support received by a former spouse from another relationship
“Income’ does not include:
- Income derived from child support payments received
- Income derived from child support received for children from another relationship
- Income derived from need-based public assistance programs
In lieu of income, courts may also consider a parent’s earning capacity when making child custody determinations.
Judicial Discretion for Child Support Awards
Under California law, the child support award determined by the guidelines is presumed to be correct. However, a judge may exercise limited discretion and deviate from this award under some circumstances.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of factors:
- The parent paying child support has an extremely high income (thus leading to payments in excess of the child’s needs).
- The parent paying child support is paying in excess of what would be reasonable given their percentage of custodial time.
- There are medical needs that require a larger child support award.
- And many more.
Our Attorneys Can Assist with Child Support Modifications
If a court has already awarded child support, then it may be possible to modify this child support order at a later date. Under California law, either parent has a right to request a modification to the existing child support order when there has been a significant change in circumstances.
These circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in parental income
- Either parent serves jail time
- Changes in custodial time
- The presence of additional children
- The needs of the children have increased or decreased in severity (i.e., a child is diagnosed with autism, leading to developmental difficulties and heightened care costs)
- And more
How Do I Request a Child Support Modification?
Either parent has the right to request a child support modification. There are two ways to request a modification, either by asking the local child support agency to review the case or petitioning the court. If a parent opts to petition the court, he or she should work with a knowledgeable child support attorney, such as those at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP.
In court, both parents are given the opportunity to present a case for why child support payments should or should not be modified. Any arguments should be supported by sufficient evidence. Our attorneys assist our Stockton clients in collecting the evidence that is necessary to prove that a change in child support payments is necessary.
How Long Does It Take for Child Support Modifications to Go Into Effect?
Child support modification requests are prioritized by the court, but it can still take some time for a court date to be scheduled, a judgment to be made, and modifications to go into effect. Prior to court, our attorneys need time to gather resources, documents, and evidence to support the modification request. However, if both parents are agreeable to the modification, it is a simple matter of getting the modification approved by the court, and the process goes much faster.
Get the Help You Need with a Stockton Child Support Lawyer at Our Firm
At McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP, our team of experienced Central Valley family law attorneys regularly advocate on behalf of clients throughout California in divorce-related matters, including difficult child support disputes.
We understand just how challenging it can be to navigate the complexities of child custody and support, and how much of an impact that a minimal/excessive child support award can have on a client’s financial and emotional wellbeing. As such, we are committed to working closely with each client to ensure that we have a thorough understanding of their case, which gives us the insight we need to secure a positive result.
Ready to speak to a skilled Stockton child support lawyer at MCJG about the issue of child support? We’re here to help. Contact us online or call 209-477-8171 to schedule a free initial consultation today.