Solana Beach Child Support Lawyer
When going through a divorce, the best interests of the children is always a top priority. That’s true for California law, and that’s true for us at Ratzer|Dobis. Our goal is always to get you the best possible outcome for you and your children.
Ratzer|Dobis is a well-established, experienced and knowledgeable law firm serving families throughout Solana Beach, California, and San Diego County. Our Solana Beach child support lawyers work for your family — which means that, while we’re experts at litigation, we look first to mediate disputes and reach an agreement that leaves you financially stable.
California Child Support Laws
In the state of California, both parents are considered responsible for the support of their child, and the law wants the child to be a part of both parents lives.
The amount of child support that will be ordered in your case is based, in part, on how much time each parent spends with the child and how much is required to pay for the child’s resources. The amount determined by the courts is meant to close the income gap between both parents and reflects the cost of living in Southern California. Typically, child support obligations end when the child turns 18, unless he or she is still in high school and living with a parent, in which case it extends until they turn 19.
Why Is Child Support so Important?
In California, the state requires that both parents continue to support their child after separation or divorce. Even if two parents were never a “couple,” they are both required to support their child. The family court recognizes the importance that child support plays in a child’s life. Raising a child is not cheap. It can be incredibly costly and nearly impossible for one parent to do. Consider all of the following costs associated with raising a child:
- School supplies
- School tuition
- Medical expenses
All of this, as well as the costs of a rent or mortgage payment and utilities, needs to be factored into the total cost of raising a child.
How Is Child Support Determined?
There is a specific formula that California law uses to dictate how much child support should be. It looks like this:
CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]
- This formula may look complicated, but it essentially uses a few different factors to calculate the child support payments. Those factors are:
- The number of children receiving support
- The amount of time each parent has with the children
- The amount of each parent’s income
These calculations are produced by a computer program, called Dissomaster, and courts are required to use the number calculated by the program. The number, however, can be negotiated if both parents agree to a higher or lower amount, or if there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the amount produced by the program was inappropriate. The court will be quicker to grant a negotiation of a higher amount than a lower amount, but there are exceptions that are made.
Can Child Support Be Modified After a Divorce Is Complete?
In the aftermath of a divorce or separation, the lives of one or both spouses will inevitably change. These changes can result in one party requesting changes to be made to child support payment amounts. The following scenarios could result in a spouse requesting a child support modification:
- One spouse loses a job and seeks to reduce the amount they pay.
- A spouse gets a raise and the other spouse requests more in child support.
- Child custody arrangements change, thereby altering the amount of money one of both parents contribute to the child’s care.
- A child’s expenses change over time or suddenly (medical care, school tuition, etc.).
These are only a few scenarios that may lead to child support modifications becoming necessary. Please understand that you should never make changes to child support payments without going through the California family court system. Even if both spouses agree to the changes, that does not mean they will always agree. Changes made outside of the court will not be recognized and could result in one or both spouses getting into legal trouble. If you are thinking of modifying a child support plan it is best to work with a Solana Beach child support attorney.
What Happens If One Party Stops Paying Child Support?
- It is a crime to not pay child support. Think of it as violating a court order. Regardless of the situation that leads to a person being unable to pay child support, without obtaining a modification allowing a person not to pay, failing to pay could lead to the following outcomes:
- The amount you owe will increase, and any backpay will face an interest rate of 10%. This will make it even harder to keep up with payments, and this amount will not go away over time like other debts.
- Your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked. This could prevent you from getting to work and hurt your ability to maintain state-issued professional and occupational certifications or licenses.
- You could be unable to obtain or renew a passport if you owe more than $2,500.
- Importantly, not paying child support can lead to criminal charges. In California, a person failing to pay child support could face a misdemeanor charge. If convicted, a person could face fines of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail. A guilty conviction does not erase any child support that is owed.
Any parent who is struggling to make their court-ordered child support payments should work with the court to obtain a modification, as mentioned above.
What Can You Do Moving Forward?
Going through a divorce is stressful — looking out for yourself, your children and your best interests can be difficult without the proper support network. At Ratzer|Dobis, our Solana Beach child support attorneys will be there for you, take the time to understand your situation always be available to answer your questions and concerns. or call (858) 793-7700 today to find out how we can help you.