Updated: Jun 5, 2021
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.
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:
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.
Any parent may request child support services from the LCSA, which will initiate a child support case.
The LCSA can file a child support case against one or both parents if a child is in foster care.
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.
California uses a statewide formula (referred to as a "guideline") to determine the amount of child support that should be charged.
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