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Vista Family Law Blog

Methods for making a child support agreement

California parents who have minor children and who are ending their marriage might wonder if there is an alternative to going to court and having a judge make a decision about child support. There are a number of ways that parents may be able to make this decision instead. One option is for them to negotiate informally, with or without the help of their respective lawyers.

Some alternative dispute resolution processes allow parents to become involved in settling differences and reaching a solution. In mediation and collaborative law, parents may fully participate in a conflict resolution process that seeks to avoid the adversarial approach of litigation and instead focuses on reaching a compromise that satisfies both parties. Arbitration is less common in family law, but when it is used, it involves a third party listening to both sides and making a decision.

Nesting as an alternative child custody arrangement

Although a divorce can be difficult for California parents, the process can also be very hard for the children. especially if there are many changes to their family suddenly occurring. In the past, the children usually remained with their mother and saw their father every weekend or every other weekend. However, some alternative child custody arrangements are becoming more popular.

One of the child custody arrangements that may work for some families is nesting. For this arrangement, the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns staying with the children. Some families will rent a nearby house or apartment where the other parent can stay when he or she does not have custody. The advantages to this type of arrangement are numerous. Both parents have the ability to maintain strong relationships with the children and the children do not feel as if they have to pack up and move every week or so.

How child support is collected and paid

Custodial parents in California might wonder how child support is collected and distributed in the state. Like other states, California has a central child support unit that is responsible for collecting and distributing child support for certain types of cases.

The central child support office is responsible for collecting and distributing child support in all Title IV-D cases as well as in non-Title IV-D cases in which there are income withholding orders. A Title IV-D case is one in which the custodial parent is receiving benefits under the Temporary Aid to Needy Families program. In those cases, the state is allowed to reimburse itself for the money it pays in TANF and Medicaid benefits up to the full amount of the child support.

How a child's opinion influences custody

Whether divorcing California parents figure out child custody matters on their own or a judge decides, their children sometimes have different ideas. Depending on a child's age and maturity level, he or she may have the opportunity to provide input about a living situation to the court.

If parents cannot reach a decision about child custody, a judge will consider several factors when assigning physical custody. A child's wishes are only one of these factors, and the weight a child's statement holds can vary. Courts want to make sure that a child or teen is staying with a responsible adult, and a judge may disregard a minor's desires if it seems like the young person just wants to live with one parent because they are more lenient about rules.

Mediation for uncontested divorces

California residents who are facing the end of their marriage may want to consider resolving their issues via mediation. With the impartial guidance of a trained third party, couples can work together to reach a consensus about their divorce terms. They will find that mediation is more advantageous than having a court trial for many reasons.

Both parties can retain control of the divorce process by choosing which topics to discuss and the terms of any divorce settlement. They do not have to accept the details dictated by the court.Mediation is typically less expensive than litigation, can takes less time and is more flexible. In fact, mediation sessions can be scheduled at the convenience of each party and does not require an attorney to spend hours drafting petitions or making court appearances.

Noncustodial disabled parents and child support

A California parent who receives child support might wonder what will happen if the noncustodial parent becomes disabled. If this occurs, the noncustodial parent might suffer a loss of income and become unable to maintain the level of the previous child support payments. That parent should go to court and ask for a modification of the order. However, a number of other factors may come into play.

The parent's disability might be temporary. If this is the case, then the modification may also be temporary. Furthermore, even if the parent is unable to work, there might be other sources of income. If the parent has disability insurance, this can be used toward child support. Supplemental Security Income can also be used for this purpose.

How parents can pursue child support across state lines

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act is a 1998 federal law designed to assist parents in collecting child support when the other parent has left the state in order to avoid complying with the court order. A parent in California could file in any federal court to pursue the other parent as long as some other conditions are also in place.

In order to use the DPPA in a child support case, the other parent must have gone more than a year without making child support payments and must owe more than $5,000 or must have gone more than two years and owe more than $10,000. The parent might be required to pay back the child support owed.

Keeping a divorce about the children

For some California couples, filing for divorce can be an explosive event, especially if there are kids involved. Some parents become wrapped up in the actual process, which can have a negative impact on the kids. However, there are some ways that parents can put the children first during the divorce so that they remain happy and healthy, even as the family dynamic changes.

If the parents are able to go through their divorce peacefully, they may try to continue living under one roof until it is finalized. This can potentially give the children a chance to get used to the idea of a divorce without much changing at first. In some cases, each parent could begin spending weekends away to allow the children to adjust to spending time living with only one parent.

Fathers and delinquent child support payments

California parents should know that according to a new study, non-custodial fathers who are delinquent in child support tend to spend less time with their children. Overall, they also work less and are more likely to have kids with more than one partner.

Parents in the United States paid $32.4 billion in child support during the fiscal year of 2015. These payments went through the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Generally, parents who do not reside with their children are required to make support payments to the custodial parents.

Obtaining back child support after a child turns 18

Divorced California parents often rely on child support payments to help make ends meet. While most noncustodial parents do their best to make their child support payments on time, there are some who attempt to avoid their obligations. In some cases, they may believe that they will not have to pay once the child turns 18.

However, this is not the case. If a parent misses a child support payment, the obligation to pay the amount of back support that is owed does not go away when the child reaches the age of majority or otherwise becomes emancipated. The past due amounts must be paid back in full no matter how old the child is.

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