Articles Posted in Child Support

The chances are that you are good at the job you do. Whether you are a plumber or a podiatrist, a kindergarten teacher or a chemical engineer, it is reasonably likely that there are things about your job and your industry that are well within your personal sphere of knowledge that would be outside that of the average “person on the street” who hasn’t done your job. The same is true for the law — all types of law. While family law matters may seem more manageable as a layperson than, say, patent law or international business transactions, thinking that there isn’t a cost to be paid when you forego counsel can very often be dangerous. In one recent case, a father managed, as a result of the way he mishandled his appeals case, to block the First District Court of Appeal from reviewing either his divorce judgment or his post-judgment child support case.

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In a very instructive recent decision by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the court concluded that California’s public policy in favor of the fulfillment of child support obligations could trump the contractual provisions of a trust agreement. In this specific case, that meant a trustee of a trust could be ordered to pay a woman’s back owed child support to the father of her children, even though the trust agreement had clear language forbidding the trustee from making payments to creditors of the mother, a named beneficiary in the trust. The decision offers a useful tool for parents seeking to analyze all avenues for collecting unpaid child support.

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One way to resolve your divorce case is to agree to a stipulated judgment of dissolution. You should be very cautious about agreeing to a stipulated judgment without consulting counsel first, however, since doing so may involve your surrendering certain rights you might otherwise have. In a recent case originating in Orange County, that’s exactly what happened. In the Fourth District Court of Appeal‘s ruling, the husband could not pursue a termination of his spousal support, even though the statutes allow for cessation after a recipient spouse remarries, since he had contracted to continue paying even if his ex-wife remarried.

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In most divorce cases involving children, the family court will order the amount of monthly child support to be paid to the supported spouse. That amount will remain in effect for as long as the court decides, or until one party can show a “change of circumstances” sufficient to modify the order. Under California law, there are no official guidelines governing when circumstances have changed enough to warrant a modification. The determination is typically made on a case-by-case basis and often rests on one’s ability to pay or one’s financial status. Child support is an extremely important issue in any divorce or separation case. An experienced San Diego family law attorney would be able to analyze your situation and determine the financial options for your family and you.

Courts often step in when a parent fails to make support payments or alleges that he or she is unable to meet the obligation. The California Family Code authorizes a court to require a parent who alleges that the parent’s default in a child or family support order is due to the parent’s unemployment to submit a list of at least five different places the parent has applied for employment. This is known as a “seek-work” order. In a recent California case, the ex-husband and father claimed that the court should not have issued a seek-work order and that the actual form was arbitrary. He also alleged that the family court abused its discretion by denying his request to modify the child support order.

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The California Family Code devotes an entire section to the regulation of child support. Under the law, a parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life. Therefore, when a couple seeks to separate and divorce, the court will attempt to fashion a child support arrangement that suits the family’s circumstances. In order to do so, courts are required to consult and apply the Family Code’s Statewide Uniform Guideline. This is a crucial part of a divorce case that will ultimately dictate the parties’ financial interests going forward. To protect your family’s legal and financial rights, you are strongly encouraged to contact a local San Diego family law attorney as early in the case as possible.

Under the mandatory formula for calculating child support, courts will look at each parent’s “income from whatever source derived.” This includes a host of sources, including but not limited to “commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, and workers’ compensation benefits,” among many other items. The statute clearly contemplates additional sources of income not identified therein. In fact, at least one California case has pointed out that the codified items are “by way of illustration only.”

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A court order for child support in a divorce case or child custody dispute between two parents is a serious matter. The parent who is obligated to make the child support payments will be expected to adhere to the court order or else face possible legal action. When the support payment is not made, the amount due is considered “in arrears,” and courts may apply interest to the amount outstanding. California family law governs a parent’s obligation to pay and sets forth legal requirements for collection. If you are facing a divorce or another family law dispute involving children, it is extremely important to protect your rights. The best course of action is to reach out to an experienced San Diego family law lawyer as soon as possible.

Child support cases can vary a great deal from one family to the next, and in some situations, they can become quite complicated. In a recent California case, the parents were in a dispute over whether the father’s derivative Social Security benefits could be applied to the amount of child support payments that he failed to pay for several years. Here, the mother and the father had one child together. In 2003, a court ordered the father to pay $507 in monthly child support payments to the mother. Over the succeeding years, the payments were incrementally reduced. By 2011, the family court held a hearing and reduced the amount of monthly support to $8.50.

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Under the California Family Code, when a couple gets divorced, the court is empowered to award spousal support. The law sets forth a variety of factors for the court to weigh in determining the amount to be awarded and to whom. One of the more widely known factors is the couple’s “marital standard of living” at the time of separation. But contrary to what many may believe, the standard of living is but one factor for the court to consider, along with many others, such as:  the marketable skills of the supported party; the extent to which earning capacity is affected by periods of unemployment due to the undertaking of domestic responsibilities; the ability to pay spousal support; the obligations and assets of each party; the duration of the marriage; the age and health of the parties; and the ability of the person receiving support to obtain gainful employment. An experienced family law attorney would be able to evaluate your situation in accordance with the statutory code.

In a recent California divorce case, the wife sought to modify (increase) the award of spousal support, citing health issues and an injury from a car accident. Here, the parties were married for 22 years when they separated in 2009. In 2011, a divorce judgment was entered. The court awarded the wife $3,123 in monthly child support and $2,250 in spousal support. The child support would elapse once their children became emancipated. The ruling included a Gavron warning, which advised the wife that she was required to undertake reasonable efforts to pursue permanent, full-time employment. The judgment also made clear that the removal of child support would not amount to a “change in circumstances” sufficient to warrant a modification of spousal support.

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Due to the nature of a divorce proceeding, separating spouses often fail to agree on some of the major issues to be resolved, such as spousal support, the division of marital property, and any child custody and support matters. In such cases, courts have the authority to step in and issue orders to address and determine these critical issues. And depending on the circumstances, courts retain that authority even after the judgment of divorce is rendered. To understand your rights with respect to the court’s authority over your case, from the filing of a complaint for divorce to any post-judgment relief, you are encouraged to speak with an experienced family law attorney from the local San Diego area.

Section 2010 of the California Family Code provides courts with the jurisdiction to award child support, among other things. In a recent case, the court cited this provision as a basis for extending “continuing jurisdiction” to determine issues of adult child support. Here, the parties were divorced in 1998 when their son was 11 years old. The judgment of divorce included the parties’ marital settlement agreement (“MSA”), which granted the mother physical custody of their child and required the father to pay child support each month until the earliest of his graduation from high school, when he reaches 19, or certain other events. When the child support obligation under the MSA expired, the mother failed to assert a formal request to continue those payments.
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A divorcing couple with minor children inevitably will have to consider the issue of child support. Either the parties will come to an agreement as to the appropriate amount, or a court will impose upon them a determined figure in accordance with the state’s child support guidelines. Additionally, the State Family Code requires parents to pay “adult child support” under certain circumstances. Whether you will be the recipient of support or the person obligated to pay, it is extremely important to understand your legal and financial rights. The best course of action is first to contact an experienced family law attorney from the San Diego area, someone who handles divorce cases on a daily basis.

While not as common as a typical child support obligation, adult child support requirements do exist. Under Section 3910 of the California Family Code, a parent is responsible to pay for the support of an adult child under the following two conditions: 1) if the adult child is “incapacitated from earning a living” and 2) is without “sufficient means.” A California court recently had the opportunity to review the statute and its applicability to a couple’s divorce case. Here, the parties married in 1993, separated in 2006, and have two children born in 1991 and 1995, respectively. Their stipulated judgment of divorce indicated that the husband was required to pay child support until the children marry, die, are emancipated, or reach 19 (or 18 and are no longer in high school), whichever comes first.
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The California Code provides parties with an opportunity to recoup certain fees and costs associated with various family law proceedings. For instance, under Section 2030 of the Code, courts have the authority to order one party to pay the attorney fees of the other, under certain circumstances. Essentially, the purpose of the law is to ensure that each spouse in a divorce, separation, or other related proceeding has equal access to legal representation. While the goal of the law is clear, parties often argue over the right to recover attorney fees in divorce cases. If you are considering separation or divorce, or a related issue, you may be entitled to an award of attorney fees. The best course of action is to contact an experienced family law attorney from the local San Diego area.

In a recent case involving a divorce that was finalized in 2011, the wife later brought an action under Section 2030 for attorney fees associated with the proceedings to modify the husband’s child support obligations. The wife alleged that she underwent two significant surgical procedures and was laid off from her job. The husband’s income was $160,000 that year. Based on the disparity of their incomes, the wife sought $1,500 in attorney fees at that point in the proceeding. Although the court suggested that the husband pay the fees, he refused and forced the wife to make a formal request.

At the subsequent hearing, the wife’s attorney sought the Section 2030 fees as well as a Section 271 award of sanctions against the husband for his failure to cooperate earlier in the proceeding. The trial court granted the wife’s request for attorney fees under Section 2030 but denied the additional sanctions. The husband appealed, setting forth several arguments for the reversal of the fee award. The court of appeals reviewed the language of Section 2030 and pointed out that the purpose of such an award is to ensure a fair hearing with both sides equally represented. Courts have approved attorney fee awards that are deemed just and reasonable in view of the relative positions of the parties.
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