California Child Support Laws: What You Should Know
California child support laws require custodial and noncustodial parents to contribute financially to the care and basic needs of their children. These needs include medical care, housing, clothing, and education. If support of either a minor child (aged 18 or under) or an adult child who requires support under law (aged 19 and still in high school or disabled adult) is at issue, the court has the authority to order either or both parties to pay any amount of child support required for the child’s needs. For the family court to have jurisdiction to order support, California must be a particular child’s “home state.”
Child Support Guidelines in California
The guidelines for child support are set forth in California Family Code §§ 4055 – 4076. A statewide statutory mathematical formula is used to determine minimal levels of support based on income, taxes, and payroll deductions. The result of the calculation generates “guideline child support.” The calculation takes several factors into account, including the following:
- Percentage of time children spend with each parent;
- Tax filing status;
- Salary and wages;
- Self-employment income;
- Imputed income;
- Health insurance premiums;
- Mandatory union dues;
- Deductible mortgage interest;
- Property taxes; and
- Childcare costs.
Of the factors, timeshare percentage can make a significant impact on the amount of child support one party is ordered to pay. Nevertheless, child support is based upon net spendable income of the parties, so a party may be ordered to pay support even if the other party is employed.
Parties can stipulate or agree to an amount that is below established child support guidelines, but only if the parties declare the following:
- They are fully informed of their rights regarding child support;
- The agreement was entered without duress or coercion;
- The agreement is in the child’s best interest;
- The children’s need will be met by the amount stipulated to; and
- No County has been assigned the right to support and no public assistance (welfare) applications are pending.
Indeed, parents will often disagree on what is a fair contribution and seek out an experienced child custody lawyer to help resolve these matters. In some cases, parties will also need assistance from a vocational evaluator to determine the earning capacity of an unemployed or underemployed parent. The court may also implement a “seek-work” order if one parent is failing to make adequate efforts to support his or her child.
At Johnson Attorneys Group we have experienced family lawyers who are ready to help you find real solutions in your child support matter, whether you have a simple or a complex situation. We have the resources and expertise necessary to negotiate a fair arrangement and ensure your child has sufficient financial support, whether you are seeking help enforcing a previous arrangement that the other parent has failed to follow, or you want to modify an existing order. We know that any case involving child support could be contentious.
High-Net-Worth Divorce: Child Support Considerations
Children whose parents have high-net-worth such as executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, athletes and celebrities, will likely cover much more than basic needs. Some pay tens of thousands a month to provide for their offspring. This typically happens because of their high income and because they are required by law to support the child in the manner to which they have become accustomed to living.
Meaningful support to the children of high-net-worth parents can be based on numerous factors. California child support law requires parents to share their lifestyle or “station in life” with their child, even if their current income exceeds the income the parent earned while married to the other parent. Our highly experienced high-net-worth divorce attorneys will review all your children’s needs including:
- Special medical needs;
- Lifestyle expectations (homes, vacations, parties, social activities, etc.);
- Security (bodyguards);
- Education (tutors, college, private school, boarding school, etc.);
- Extracurricular activities (riding lessons, sports, travel, art lessons, etc.);
- Clothing allowance;
- Transportation; and
- Entertainment (toys, concerts, movies, video games, etc.).
In some cases, the court will agree to deviate from guideline child support. If the child support payor has extraordinarily high income, he or she may be able to convince the court that the guideline amount exceeds the child’s needs and may be inappropriately high. For example, a 3-month-old child should not require $25,000 per month as support. To succeed with this argument, the court must make certain findings about the child’s approximate support needs. It does take additional effort to rebut the state’s presumption that guideline support is in the best interest of the child, but it could yield savings of tens of thousands of dollars per month for the paying parent.
Contact an Orange County Child Support Lawyer at Johnson Attorneys Group Today
Johnson Attorneys Group family lawyers have worked with extraordinarily high-income earners and other affluent clients in their child support matters. We understand that child support matters can be peacefully stipulated or complex and contentious. Whether you are seeking a fair child support arrangement, attempting to enforce one that the other party has failed to uphold, modify existing child support orders, or have other issues concerning child support in a separation, divorce, or parentage matter, our firm is uniquely qualified with the resources that you need for your case. We are located in Newport Beach and help affluent clients all around Orange County resolve complex issues related to child support, property division, high-net-worth divorce, child custody, and more.
Call (949) 942-8784 to request a private consultation with an Orange County child support lawyer.