Court Discusses Child Support Obligations Under California Law

In co-parenting arrangements, it is not uncommon for one parent to earn a greater income than the other. As such, the Courts will often find it appropriate to order the higher-earning party to pay child support to their co-parent. While California policy favors providing children with adequate financial support, the Courts may reduce a child support award in certain circumstances. This was demonstrated recently in a California case where the Court ordered the mother to seek employment. If you share custody of a child and have questions regarding support obligations, it is prudent to meet with a San Diego child support lawyer to evaluate your options.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father share custody of a 5-year-old child. When the child was first born, he spent approximately 80 percent of his time with the mother and the remaining time with the father. At that time, the father’s income was $15,000 per month, and he was ordered to pay the mother approximately $1,500 per month in child support. The mother did not work but received $5,000 per month from her father.

It is reported that in 2020, the father moved to modify his support obligation, as his time with his son had increased to over 40 percent. Additionally, he sought a seek-work order compelling the mother to work. The Court granted the order over the mother’s objections, and she appealed.

Child Support Obligations Under California Law

Under California law, both parents of a minor child share the responsibility to support the child financially. The parents share this obligation equally. In determining child support obligations, the Courts implement statewide uniform guidelines. The guidelines dictate, in part, that parents must support their children in a manner that is suitable in consideration of their circumstances and station in life; they share this responsibility mutually and should provide support for their children according to their ability.

The guidelines place the child’s interest as the top priority of the Courts. A substantial factor in determining support obligations is the annual net income of the parents. Income includes money from any source, including recurring gifts from parents. Courts can also weigh a parent’s earning capacity in lieu of their income and may impute income to a parent that is unemployed. The Courts can also compel an unemployed parent to show that they are seeking employment. In the subject case, the Appellate Court found that there was substantial evidence in support of the seek work order. Thus, it denied the mother’s appeal.

Contact a Seasoned California Family Law Attorney

While all parents have an obligation to provide financial support for their minor children, child support is not warranted in every instance in which parents share custody. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is advisable to contact an attorney to assess what measures you can take to protect your interests. The seasoned San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC have ample experience handling child support matters, and we can assist you in seeking a successful outcome. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential meeting.


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