How To Legally Avoid Paying Child Support in California

Hossein Berenji, May 08, 2024

Regardless of the relationship status between parents, they have a legal obligation to financially support their children. California child support laws require parents to pay child support for their children until they turn 18 years old (19 years old if they are still in high school).

However, what happens when a parent cannot pay child support? Is there a legal way to avoid paying child support in California?

Child Support in California – What Do You Need To Know?

In most situations, child support in California is mandatory. You cannot legally avoid paying child support for a minor child.

The purpose of child support is to provide for a child’s basic needs. It ensures that both parents contribute a fair share to the child’s financial support, even after separating or divorcing. Courts will also impose child support after paternity has been determined if the parents never married.

The California Child Support Services oversees local child support agencies in California. These agencies provide individuals with services at the county level. The mission of the California Child Support Services is to promote parental responsibility for the benefit of the child.

The department does several things to accomplish its mission:

  • Create a record of child support payments
  • Help parents avoid court
  • Act as a neutral party between parents
  • Assist parents in navigating the child support system

The California Child Support Services does not represent either party. It acts as a neutral entity to protect the public interest.

How Is Child Support Determined in California?

California has adopted statewide uniform guidelines for child support obligations. The child support guidelines consider several factors, including:

  • The gross income of each parent
  • Allowable expenses and deductions from the parent’s gross income
  • The number of children to be supported
  • The time-sharing arrangement for the children
  • Health insurance premiums that a parent pays
  • A parent’s tax filing status

Even though the statute has a mandatory formula for calculating child support, determining child support obligations is not as simple as imputing figures into a child support estimator. Other factors that can impact child support payments include a child’s special needs, travel expenses for visitation, private school tuition, extracurricular activities, and other costs or expenses for the child.

Once the court orders child support, the support continues until the child turns 18 years old (or 19 years old if they are in high school). The court can modify child support payments for a substantial change in circumstances.

Can I Legally Avoid Paying Child Support in California?

In most situations, you cannot legally avoid child support in California. Even if your spouse states they do not need it, they cannot waive your payments because child support is for the benefit of the child. However, a judge could order zero child support if they find it is in the child’s best interest when deciding your divorce case.

Further, there are some rare situations where you could legally stop making child support payments. Situations where child support may terminate include:

  • The child turns 18 years old and has graduated high school
  • The child turns 19 years old or graduates high school, whichever comes first
  • The child marries or enters a domestic partnership
  • A child dies, ending the child support obligation
  • The child joins the United States Armed Forces
  • The child petitions the court for legal emancipation, and the court grants the request

If your parental rights are terminated, your child support obligation ends. However, you also lose all parental rights. You have no legal right to visit with your child or make decisions for your child.

The court can terminate parental rights if it finds that it is in the best interests of the child, such as a parent being unfit or the child being adopted. However, a parent cannot simply give up their parental rights to avoid paying child support.

What Should I Do if I Cannot Afford To Pay My Child Support Payments in California?

If you cannot pay child support, contact a Beverly Hills child support attorney immediately. Judges can impose penalties for failing to pay child support. If you have child support arrears, the court could:

  • Charge you with a misdemeanor
  • Hold you in contempt of court
  • Suspend your driver’s license and professional license
  • Garnish your wages
  • Charge increased interest and penalties
  • Seize tax refunds
  • Place a government lien against your property

If you cannot afford child support, an attorney can help you petition the court to modify child support. The sooner you contact a child support lawyer, the better your situation will be. You do not want to fall behind on child support payments, so call an attorney today if you find yourself in this situation.

Contact a Beverly Hills Family Law Lawyer Today

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to know how we can assist you.

Beverly Hills Office
9595 Wilshire Blvd Ste 959
Beverly Hills CA 90212
(310) 271-6290

Los Angeles Office
550 S. Hill Street STE 1467
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 985-3007