Finding a way to support a newborn is one of the most demanding challenges of parenthood in general. Having a child is a large financial undertaking, from hospital bills to supplies like diapers and food. It may become difficult to pay for the essential items your child needs. Teenage parents may be required to pay child support because parents are parents regardless of their age. Although tough, navigating the realm of child support payments as a minor is feasible, and with the right background information, it can be simple.
What Does Child Support Entail?
If they do not have custody of their children, a parent must regularly pay child support to help with the costs of raising their children. Whether it be the result of a divorce or a general agreement between parents, child support payments can range in frequency, amount, and timeframe based on the factors of the case. This support is determined by analyzing the amount of money made by the parents involved, their level of participation in raising the child, and the prior obligations that go into rearing a child. Although these guidelines are suitable for adult parents, the process of determining child support payments for minor parents can be complex, and various factors can affect the amount and extent of these payments, including:
- Dependent status
- Income and financial ability to pay child support
- High school completion
- Wishes of the mother’s parents
- Age of parents
The typical legal processes surrounding child custody and child support payments will change if the parents are minors. For example, because minors are considered dependent on their parents to begin with, two minor parents of a child will transfer the responsibility of raising the child onto their parents, including child support payments. Until one or both parents are eighteen years old, they cannot be considered legal guardians of that child. If the minors become emancipated, however, they gain the legal rights necessary to assume guardianship over their child.
How Does Child Support Work for Dependents?
Child support payments are typically paid by the adult parents of children, factoring in their income along with variables such as the amount of time they spend with their children. Aside from those who have been emancipated, most minors are still being supported by their parents, making them dependents. This can complicate child support payments. When a child is conceived by parents who are both under eighteen (and unemancipated) at the time, the grandparents of the child are jointly responsible for providing for their grandchild’s needs. This obligation continues until both minor, unemancipated parents turn eighteen or become free adults.
How Are Child Support Payments Calculated Without Steady Employment?
According to the California Department of Child Support Services, the court decides child support based on current earnings. This figure is used to calculate monthly payments based on the amount of time spent caring for the child. In situations where the father of the child is unemployed, especially when that father is still a minor and unable to work full time due to high school attendance, he is still obligated to pay child support. The court will calculate the father’s potential earnings—what he might make if he were working—and use that as a projection for monthly payments.
If the father is enrolled in school, the court will typically consider his income to be part-time for the sake of calculating a monthly child support figure. Due to the lack of money coming in from working, the amount of child support might reach 50% of the gross income determined by the court. In most cases, child support is deducted immediately from the father’s paycheck. Therefore, if he is employed, this money will automatically be taken from his pay. As with any other legally obligated payment, not making these monthly payments may cause legal repercussions.
Questions Regarding Child Support Payments in California
Q: Which Parent Pays Child Support in California?
A: The parent paying the child support payments in each situation is subject to change. To determine which parent is more likely to pay child support, the parent’s income and title as the custodial or non-custodial parent are the main factors used to assign childcare payments to a parent, making the higher-earning and less-involved parent responsible for paying child support.
Q: How Much Does a Father Have to Pay for Child Support in California?
A: Depending on the parent named as the custodial guardian of the child or children in question, child support payments could range from a fixed amount determined by California’s child support equation to nothing. The gender of the parent does not determine the party responsible for child support payments. This can only be determined by the court.
Q: Does Child Support Continue Through College in California?
A: Child support payments are typically made until the child in question is eighteen, or if they finish high school. For example, parents taking care of an eighteen-year-old child that is still enrolled in high school will be able to collect child support until that child turns 19. However, if they graduate high school before turning nineteen, the child support payments can end.
Q: What Age Does Child Support End in California?
A: Child support payments end when your child either graduates high school or turns eighteen. Depending on which event happens first, the child support payments may last until your child turns nineteen. However, upon exiting high school, the money from a non-custodial parent usually ends because the child is no longer considered a full-time high school student.
Seeking Legal Help With Child Support Payments
Paying child support is already a seemingly uphill battle, but this may seem exponentially harder to handle as a minor. Whether you provide child support on a part-time job salary or need to enlist your parents for support, as a minor, paying child support can be done with the right approach. When receiving any child support obligation, finding a family law attorney to help compile and advocate for your case is crucial to avoiding unnecessary payments, especially as a minor. Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, has experience with child support negotiations and can help create a smooth resolution for your case.