Articles Posted in Child Support

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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Some of the most significant issues that arise in divorce or separation proceedings involve the couple’s children, such as child support, custody, and visitation. Courts in San Diego and throughout the state take these matters seriously, especially child support. The legal system operates in such a way as to assist the child in obtaining the support he or she needs. For instance, parties are able to seek the assistance of California county agencies when attempting to enforce a parent’s court-ordered child support obligation.

One of the reasons that courts get involved in such matters is that children are unable to advocate for themselves. Child support cases can become complicated and difficult, depending on the particular circumstances. In any family law case where there are children involved, parties are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced San Diego family law attorney as early as possible in the proceeding.

In a recent California case, a couple that divorced in 2007 disputed the wife’s right to enforce a judgment lien against certain real property that was deeded to the husband under their marital settlement agreement (“MSA”). She was attempting to enforce the lien to recoup child support payments. The wife claimed that under the terms of the MSA, which divided the couple’s assets and other rights and obligations, the husband was required to pay the wife $2,000 in monthly child support and to secure and maintain health insurance for their two daughters. Under the agreement, the husband received one property that was free of debt at the time of the divorce. However, in 2008, the husband arranged for a loan on the property. He subsequently followed through with his child support obligations for a period of time.
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Most divorce cases require the parties to address and resolve many challenging issues, such as the division of marital property, spousal support, and other financial matters. But it is important to realize that each case (and each family) is different. Some spouses disagree over child custody and visitation, while others may see eye to eye on matters of physical and legal custody. Because of the unique nature of each divorce, parties contemplating the end of their marriage are encouraged to consult with a highly experienced San Diego family law attorney who will know the best way to approach each individual case.

A recent California divorce garnering national attention involves the fate of the couple’s frozen embryos. According to a news article, Dr. Mimi Lee and her husband Stephen Findley were married five years ago. Just prior to the wedding, Lee found out that she had breast cancer, and the couple decided to create and freeze five embryos. Findley filed for divorce two years ago and sought to have the embryos destroyed, in accordance with the consent agreement the parties signed prior to engaging in the reproductive technology.
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Parents who decide to divorce or separate must address a host of difficult issues, both financial and emotional. Among the most contentious is child support. Fortunately, there are state guidelines that assist the parties in calculating an appropriate amount of monthly financial support for the particular family. If parents do not agree on the amount, a judge will determine the child support payment based on the guideline calculation. Despite these legally prescribed guidelines, parents and ex-spouses often dispute any number of issues related to support. In order to limit or hopefully eliminate any potential arguments over child support, it is important that you address the issue with the help of an experienced family law attorney from the San Diego area.

In a recent California case, the divorced parents disputed whether the husband was responsible to continue paying child support for their 18-year-old son. Here, the parties were married in 1987 and received a judgment of divorce in 2007. The judgment ordered the husband to pay child support for each of their four children until the child reaches the age of 18, except that such support would continue until he or she graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19, whichever occurs first, if the child is a full-time high school student who is not self-supporting. The parents disagreed as to whether the mother was entitled to child support for their 18-year-old son, who had moved to Minnesota to pursue a professional hockey career. The wife filed a statement alleging that the child was in high school in Minnesota. It seems that he was attending high school on a part-time basis (25 hours), online, out of state, and away from both parents.
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Most divorce proceedings that involve children tend to address the issue of child support, as well as custody and visitation. Local courts and state agencies alike take very seriously the matter of support, and will even step in to ensure that the responsible parent follows through with his or her court-ordered financial obligation to a child. In some unique cases, the divorced parents live in separate states or countries, and need assurances that they can seek and enforce a support order, no matter where the responsible parent resides. Fortunately, there are laws that address this situation. If you are considering divorce and concerned about the local laws affecting child support or any other related matter, you are encouraged to contact a family law attorney from the San Diego area, who will work diligently to protect your rights.

Every state in this country has adopted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act or “UIFSA.” This Act essentially provides procedures for establishing, enforcing and modifying child support orders in cases where more than one state is involved. Together with a related federal law, the UIFSA ensures that only one state can exercise jurisdiction over a child support order at a given time. Section 4909 of the California Family Code codifies these principles, providing that the state which first issues a child support order has “continuing, exclusive jurisdiction” over the order, so long as certain legal conditions are met.
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