Court Explains California Law Regarding Child Support Obligations

Raising a child is a rewarding but costly endeavor that few people can afford to do alone. As such, if a couple with children divorces, the courts will often order one parent to pay child support to the other. Child support durations generally endure until children turn 18, but they can last longer in certain circumstances, like when a child still attends high school full-time. Recently, a California Court addressed what constitutes full-time attendance in a case in which the parties disputed whether the father had a duty to pay child support. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is in your best interest to talk to a San Diego child support attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that a dissolution proceeding between the mother and the father was pending for two decades. In the interim, the Court granted the mother primary custody of the couple’s youngest child. Further, the Court ordered the father to pay $10,000 per month in child support. The child turned 18 in March 2020.

Allegedly, in September 2021, the father filed requests for orders, asking the Court to determine that his child support obligation ended and seeking a refund of overpaid support. The father based his requests on the fact that the child turned 18 in June 2020 and no longer attended high school full-time after that date. He also sought sanctions against the mother. The Court denied the father’s request to issue sanctions but granted his other requests, finding that as of July 2020, the child was no attended high school full-time. The mother appealed.

California Law Regarding Child Support Obligations

On appeal, the mother asserted, among other things, that the Trial Court erred in finding that the child was not a full-time high school student and that it misinterpreted the meaning of full-time as used in Section 3901 of the California Family Code, which indicates that a child support obligation will continue for a child that is a full-time high school student until the child completes the 12th grade.

The Court ultimately granted the mother’s appeal on the issue of whether the Trial Court properly interpreted the definition of full-time, reversed the Trial Court order, and remanded the matter for further proceedings and discovery as needed to make appropriate findings. Specifically, the Court noted that the definition of full-time as contemplated by the California Family Code was generally the same as the definition used by the California Education Code.

Namely, a full-time student is one who attends school for the duration of the school day as designated by the governing board of the school district in which the parent’s residency is located. In the subject case, the Trial Court did not apply the definition contemplated by the Code. Thus, the Court reversed the Trial Court ruling.

Confer with a Capable San Diego Family Law Attorney

Parents have a duty to support their minor children and, in many cases, will be required to pay child support, but such obligations usually only last until the children turn 18. If you want to learn more about your rights with regard to child support, it is prudent to confer with a lawyer. The capable San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC can assess the facts of your case and aid you in pursuing a favorable result. We regularly represent people in child support cases in San Diego and other cities in San Diego County. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 800-769-4748 to set up a meeting.

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