• JC Serrano

Why Work With Pre-Screened Child Support Lawyers in Los Angeles

Updated: Jun 5

Find An Honest Family Lawyer in Los Angeles for Child Support Actions


California courts use child welfare as a means to ensure that a child receives the financial support they need for their most basic needs. If you're the parent who will be paying child support or the partner who has the bulk of parental time, it's essential to consider how California family courts measure child support. A Family Lawyer can help you through this confusing process.


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Child support payments were created to assist divorcing partners in providing equally for their children's well-being. The non-custodial parent usually pays them to the custodial parent, but they may also be used in shared custody, particularly if the parents' incomes are substantially different or the children spend most of their time with one parent. Payments typically last until the youngest child reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school, but they can last longer if the child is deemed disabled by the courts. Non-custodial parents are usually expected to make sure that their health insurance, whether they have it, protects their children.


How Does Child Support Begin?


Each parent is equally responsible for meeting his or her child's financial needs. However, before the court issues a service order, the court cannot enforce this requirement. When parents divorce, one of them must petition the court for an order defining parentage (paternity) and an order for child care.


Child maintenance is normally paid before the child reaches the age of eighteen (or 19 if they are still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support themselves).


In either of these types of cases, any parent may ask the judge to make a child support order:

  • For parents who are married or in a registered domestic relationship, divorce, legal separation, or annulment are options

  • Unmarried parents may file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship

  • A restraining order against domestic abuse (for married or single parents)

  • A Petition for Minor Children's Custody and Support (for parents who have signed a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity or are married or registered domestic partners and do not want to get legally separated or divorced)

Child support may also be ordered as part of a local child support agency (LCSA) lawsuit. This local government agency offers services to determine parentage and establish and implement child support orders in each jurisdiction. Here's how to do it:

  1. The LCSA will immediately file a child support lawsuit against the non-custodial parent if one of the parents receives public assistance (such as TANF - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). The custodial parent who receives public assistance is also a participant in the situation.

  2. Any parent may request child support services from the LCSA, which will initiate a child support case.

  3. The LCSA can file a child support case against one or both parents if a child is in foster care.

  4. In a family law situation, any parent may ask the LCSA to take over enforcement of a child support order (like a divorce or parentage case).


Child Support Calculation


A parent's first and most important responsibility in California is to support his or her minor children. Each parent is required to contribute to a child's support based on his or her financial resources.

  1. California uses a statewide formula (referred to as a "guideline") to determine the amount of child support that should be charged.

  2. If the parents cannot agree on child support, the judge will use the guideline calculation to determine the sum.

The estimation of the guideline is based on the following factors:

  • How much money the parents make or have the potential to earn

  • What other sources of income each parent has

  • What is the total number of children these parents have

  • Time-share

  • Every parent's actual tax filing status

  • Children from other relationships are supported

  • Costs of health insurance

  • Union fees are a legal requirement

  • Contributions to a retirement plan that are required

  • Shared daycare expenses and uninsured healthcare costs

  • Special considerations

In addition, the child support order can require the parents to split the costs of:

  • Child care to encourage a parent to work or obtain work-related training or education

  • Expenses for children's health care that are reasonable

  • Traveling from one parent to the other for visitation

  • the educational requirements of children

  • Other special requirements


Calculating child care by determining "gain."


Child welfare is determined by a parent's "net disposable income." After state and federal taxes and other necessary deductions, this is the parent's income. Suppose the court decides that this income occurs on a regular basis. In that case, the court can order support based in part on incentives, commissions, overtime, and other supplementary or non-wage income.


Certain types of income are not taken into account when calculating a child support commitment. The court, for example, cannot take into account income from:

  • CalWORKs (California Workforce Investment Board)

  • General Assistance/General Relief

  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)


Calculating child care by determining "timeshare."


By measuring the amount of time each parent has primary physical responsibility for the child, the court will determine "timeshare" (how much time each parent spends with the children). In general, this means that the court can monitor the number of hours or other parts of the day spent with a child by the parent.


How to Place a Support Order


You can get a help order in one of the following ways:


Stipulation – If the Person Paying Support (PPS) and the client agree on terms, the PPS can sign a "stipulation." The PPS agrees to the following by signing the stipulation form:

  1. He or she is the child's mom.

  2. As specified in the stipulation, he or she will pay for child care and have health insurance.

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Based on the stipulation, the court may issue an order or judgment.

  • Default Judgment – If the PPS fails to file an Answer to the S&C within 30 days and no stipulation is reached, the judicial officer can enter a default judgment. This means that, without a court hearing or input from the PPS, the judicial officer can enter a final judgment based on the terms of the Proposed Judgment.

  • Court Hearing – The case will be set for a court hearing if the PPS files a Response with the court clerk. A PPS will ask the court to assess the amount of child maintenance and request genetic testing to determine whether he is the biological father of the child. If the PPS fails to show up for the hearing, the court will issue an order without him.

Providing Medical Coverage


If health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) is available at an affordable rate, the judicial officer is required by California law to order parents to provide it for their children. Health insurance is considered fair as of January 1, 2011, provided the premium for the child(ren) does not exceed 5% (5%) of the obligor parent's total (before taxes) profits. The court will also issue a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN), which allows the child's employer to enroll the child in health insurance and subtract the cost of the coverage from the parent's income. Financial assistance may also take the form of a payment order for medical costs that are not covered by insurance.


If a court orders cash medical support, it must be paid in addition to basic child support. In general, the court would require that all costs not covered by insurance be divided 50-50 between the parents; 50 percent to each parent. Please contact LA County Child Support Services if you have any concerns about your particular case.


Military Parent


Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, an individual serving in the United States military has special rights that may affect child support. The primary goal of the SCRA is to protect military personnel when they are serving in the military.


Certain civil legal proceedings against active-duty military personnel are prohibited under the SCRA, including:

  • If a service member is actively deployed on a military mission, he or she can seek a stay of all judicial and administrative civil proceedings.

  • Before a default judgment may be entered, the court must usually assign an advocate for the service member.

  • In such conditions, the service member may seek a stay of execution (the carrying out) of a judgment, attachment, or garnishment order.

  • Prior to deployment, the service member can request that his or her child support order be reviewed and possibly modified.

  • In some circumstances, the service member can request that the interest rate on past due support be reduced from 10% to 6%.

If a Person Paying Support (PPS) is served with a Summons, Complaint, and Proposed Judgment (S&C) while incarcerated, he or she has only 30 days to answer to the court from the day the papers are served. It is important to read the paperwork thoroughly. If a PPS believes he is not the father of the child mentioned in the S&C, he will request genetic testing. If the case requires genetic testing, it will normally be completed while the PPS is incarcerated. As soon as the PPS receives the documents, he or she can contact Child Support Services by phone or in writing.


If a PPS requires assistance, most California courts provide a Family Law Facilitator (FLF) that can provide child support information as well as assist parties in obtaining and completing court forms. FLF programs are free and unaffiliated with us. A convicted PPS may also seek help from his or her criminal attorney or public defender.


Child Support Payments Falling Behind


You must pay interest on the balance owed in addition to the sum you owe if you fall behind on child support payments. Interest charges are mandated by statute, and a judge has no power to prevent them.


Interest is:

  • 10 percent per year for child support that was due on or after January 1, 1983; or

  • For child support due before January 1, 1983, the rate is 7% per year.

If you owe past-due child support, your court order or salary assignment (garnishment), if applicable, will provide a sum in excess of the monthly child support. This sum is referred to as a "liquidation amount" since it is used to pay off the debts. However, even though you pay your arrears in installments, interest is always applied to your account.


Child support arrangements may have significant implications. If the court determines that someone has the financial means to pay support but refuses to do so, the individual ordered to pay support could be held "in contempt of court." Contempt of court is a serious offense that can result in prison time. When all other options have failed, this compliance mechanism is usually used.


Child Support Arrangements May Be Changed


Circumstances on both sides of the order often change — the child's financial needs may change, or the non-custodial parent's income may change, for example.


When such changes occur, either parent may request a child support adjustment. If the amendment is approved, the original child support order will be modified to reflect the changes. The procedure for seeking a child support amendment varies by state and even by county, which is why it's crucial to understand the process in Los Angeles before proceeding.


Who may make a request for a support modification, and why should they?