Los Angeles Child Support Attorney
Given the cost of living in Los Angeles, establishing a proper amount of child support is important for bother parents. If you are seeking to establish child support or or defend against a support action, call Fernandez & Karney today to discuss your case.
Attorneys Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney are both Certified Family Law Specialists with over 50 years of combined experience. Our team is here to help you achieve a fair resolution. Speak to a qualified Los Angeles child support attorney today to find out how we can help. We offer a free consultation for your convenience.
Duty To Support Minors
In California, both parents have equal responsibility for the support of their minor child “in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.” The law requires parents to provide for their offspring up until the child reaches 19 years of age, but courts will enforce an agreement between the mother and the father for continued support of an adult child. If the child is incapacitated, there is no maximum-age ceiling limiting the parents’ duty. Occasionally, a judge may specify some future occurrence when the payments shall terminate: the child’s marriage, for instance.
Should the state, some governmental or private institution, or an individual volunteer take on the care for the child, they might be able to recover the cost from the parent. If the court orders child support payments, and the county incurs costs and attorney fees while enforcing such order, these fees and costs are also chargeable to the parent. In California, registered domestic partners have the same responsibilities towards their children as a married couple does.
Ability To Contribute
Each parent contributes according to his ability. The authorities usually consider the duty towards his child fully satisfied with respect to the custodial parent. To improve children’s standard of living, and to eliminate disparity between the divorced or separated parents’ households, the court can require additional contribution for this purpose. On the other hand, a parent can claim a deduction for hardship in limited circumstances, such as catastrophic uninsured loss.
The Math Behind Child Support
California enacted the following formula for calculation of child support:
CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]
Statewide Uniform Guideline, which originated the computation, also delivers a detailed explanation: CS stands for the child support, the amount to be determined, or the x one might recall from high school algebraic equations. H% is the percentage of time the when the high earner has the primary responsibility for the children. “Primary responsibility” is a term defined by the courts in case law. So, for instance, school time can be included or excluded depending on who the primary caretaker is, or on who is paying the tuition.
K is a fraction, representing the allocation of income by both parents, in total, towards child support. TN is the total net monthly disposable income of both parents, and finally, HN is the high earner’s net monthly disposable income. The net disposable income is calculated by deducting taxes and costs like retirement contributions, disability and health insurance, or mandatory union dues from the gross income. The court may adjust the result, if it believes it does not accurately represent the potential future earnings, for example.
Should you find the proliferation of letters in the above formula confusing, here is an example with numbers:
- $4,500 monthly = HN (high earner’s net monthly disposable income)
- $6,300 monthly = TN (total net monthly disposable income of both parents)
- High earner spends 30% of time with the child in the role of primary caretaker = H%
- Child support = K*[4,500 – (0.3*6,300)]
K must be calculated first: instructions are provided in California Family Code Section 4055. The formula for calculation of K can vary, depending on the actual H% number, and the combined income of the parents. Here, K=1+H% multiplied by 0.25 (this fraction comes from a table listed in Section 4055, and its application is limited to combined disposable income of both parents range between $801 and $6,666). So, K=1+ 30%*0.25=0.325.
Once the number is input into the formula, it will look like this:
Child support = 0.325*[4,500 – (0.3*6,300)]
This equals 0.325*[4,500 – 1,890] = 0.325*2,610 = $848.25
The example is, of course, a mere hypothetical. Because the underlying variables are subject to fact-finding by the courts, a summer spent with grandparents, or a study abroad program might have impact on the outcome. In very broad terms, a parent’s contribution decreases (1) if they act as the person primarily responsible for the child more often than the other parent; or (2) if the other parent has a higher income.
It is important to note that result of this calculation constitutes a rebuttable presumption as to what the support should be. The court can issue an order for divergent child support amount, for example, if the high earner’s income were so extraordinary, that the amount under the guideline “would exceed the needs of the children.”
While Proceedings Are Pending
If child support is the subject of dispute between the parents, a court can make a temporary order for the payment of support. Should the parents reconcile and resume living together in one household, such temporary order loses its effect.
California courts can also issue an expedited support order. Whenever a court is reviewing an application for such order, the obligated parent, called upon to provide child support, is entitled to a hearing. Normally, an expedited support order becomes valid 30 days after the service of all required documents on the obligated parent. The court can also make the order effective retroactively, as of the date of the application filing.
If the income of the obligated parent is unknown, instead of using the calculation from the guideline, the judge can order the parent to pay the minimum defined in the state’s welfare laws. The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act sets forth the “minimum basic standards of adequate care” in dollar amounts, starting at $341.
Generally, courts can modify or terminate child support orders at any time, although some limitations exist. A simplified process is available to parents seeking modification or termination of child support. California Courts website provides detailed instructions on how to proceed, so that parents who cannot afford legal assistance, can apply for modification representing themselves.