Child support exists to ensure that parents, both divorced and unmarried, contribute equally to financially supporting their children. If you have recently decided to divorce or if you are unmarried and you and your partner decide to end your relationship, neither of these situations supersedes your shared responsibilities as parents. A child support determination can be a very contentious issue for some families. Having the right attorney on your side can make a tremendous difference in your experience with the Carlsbad, CA, family court system and ultimately result in a more agreeable support arrangement between you and your co-parent.
Attorney Paula D. Kleinman offers a full spectrum of professional legal services to parents facing child support determinations. These proceedings may be part of an overarching divorce case, or unmarried parents may need to undergo a child support determination if they decide to end their relationship and live separately. No matter what your situation entails, Attorney Kleinman and her team can guide you through your legal proceedings and ensure a fair and reasonable outcome that suits your child’s best interests.
Technically, you do not need legal representation to complete your child support determination. However, hiring an attorney will make the process faster, less stressful, and reduce the chances of ending up with an unfair or unreasonable set of support terms. If you are the custodial parent expecting to receive child support, your attorney will help ensure you receive a fair support agreement. If you expect to pay support as a noncustodial parent, a Carlsbad child support lawyer is your best asset for ensuring that you pay a fair and reasonable amount of support based on your income and your child’s needs.
As your Carlsbad child support attorney, Paula D. Kleinman will carefully review your case and help you understand how your child support determination proceedings are likely to unfold. If your child support case is part of a larger divorce case or is related to other family law matter, such as a child custody determination, you can count on our team for assistance with these issues as well.
California state law requires a family court judge to oversee child support determination proceedings and assign support terms based on various criteria. Some parents may want to develop their own parenting plan that includes their preferred support terms, and while a judge may consider such a proposal, there is no guarantee that they will approve it. For example, if you and your spouse are mediating your divorce agreement, you can draft a parenting plan that includes your child custody and child support preferences. While you can settle other aspects of your divorce through mediation, such as property division and alimony, you will need to have your proposed parenting plan approved by a judge before it is legally enforceable.
When a judge determines child support, they will use a series of formulas and consider various factors to determine each parent’s financial support obligation to their child. The parents’ custody terms then determine which parent pays child support. It is important to remember that even if parents secure 50/50 joint custody, one parent will pay child support to the other. Unless both parents make the same amount of income and spend the same amount of time with their children regularly, there will always be a paying parent and a receiving parent in a child support determination.
Most child support cases will involve a complex and detailed review of several factors, including:
Once a judge assesses these factors, they will determine a fair and reasonable amount of child support. Parents may argue that some factors should dictate a higher or lower amount of child support than is initially awarded. For example, if one parent earns a substantial income, the other parent may claim that they should receive more child support than what the standard formula would dictate due to the difference between their incomes. It is also possible for the paying parent to argue for a lower child support obligation if they handle expenses such as the child’s tuition, health insurance coverage, and daycare costs.
Your Carlsbad child support lawyer will help you understand what to expect in your child support determination and which factors are likely to influence the judge’s decision concerning the amount of support your child requires.
The California family court system acknowledges that unexpected life events can materially influence an existing child support order. For example, if you are paying child support and are rendered unable to work due to a serious accident, this will materially influence your ability to meet your support obligation. However, if you were to quit your job willingly, this would not qualify as reasonable grounds for requesting relief from your child support obligation.
If you believe you need to change your child support terms, whether it be to reduce the amount you’re paying or to petition for increased support from the paying parent, you must undergo the post-judgment modification process. This entails submitting a proposal to the family court that outlines your requested change and your reasoning for requesting the change. Once the court receives your petition, they will schedule a hearing. You and your co-parent will both have the chance to speak on the requested change, and the judge must decide whether the proposed new terms suit your child’s best interests better than the existing terms.
If you are beholden to a child support order, you must make your payments on time and in full. Any violation of your support order can have serious consequences. If you have experienced some issue beyond your control that prevents you from making your child support payment on time, it is vital to notify your co-parent and the family court about the issue. You may need to repay your back support as soon as you can do so, or if the issue that has interfered with your ability to pay is permanent, you may have grounds to request a modification of your support order.
If you receive child support and the paying parent has failed or refused to pay support intentionally, you should consult your Carlsbad child support lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you petition the court to compel your co-parent to pay what they owe, or it may be more appropriate to file contempt proceedings against them. The California family court can take many actions to ensure you received owed child support, including garnishing your co-parent’s wages, seizing their assets, or even jailing them until they repay owed support.
If you pay child support and are left unable to pay due to forces beyond your control, this is an affirmative defense against contempt of court. You must respond to the court’s inquiry concerning your failure to pay and provide them with clear proof that the situation is not your fault. Depending on your circumstances, the court may require you to begin remitting owed support as soon as you can do so or adjust your support terms based on the recent life events that impacted your ability to pay.
A child support determination can be a stressful experience for both parents involved in the matter. If you are a custodial parent, it is natural to want to secure the highest amount of child support possible and paying parents want to ensure the amount they pay is fair and reasonable, and used for their child’s expenses. If you are preparing for a divorce or are an unmarried parent splitting up with your child’s other parent, it is a good idea to contact an experienced Carlsbad child support attorney as soon as possible about your situation.
Attorney Paula D. Kleinman and her team are available to assist you. Our team can assist with initial child support determinations and modification proceedings if you need to change an existing support order. If you are ready to discuss your child support dispute with a reliable and experienced Carlsbad child support lawyer, contact us today for more information about how we can help.
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