NEED HELP WITH CHILD SUPPORT?
Child Support Lawyer Los Angeles
The divorce and family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates have over 20 years of combined experience handling child support issues. Family courts in Los Angeles are busy, so you typically only get about 30 minutes to present evidence during a child support hearing. As your attorneys, we make sure that the court gets an accurate picture of your financial situation. We understand the process, and work closely with you to assure that relevant information is presented and considered.
If you are in Los Angeles and seeking to establish or defend against a child support action, we can help. Call us today for a free consultation.
California Family Code § 3900 codifies the parents’ obligation to support their minor children “in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.” Further, all minor children of the parents are owed a duty of support, regardless of the parents’ marital status or if the child is the biological offspring.
Duty To Support Minors
Both parents have a duty to support their minor children until the child reaches 18 years of age. However, the court can extend that requirement past 18, for example if the child is disabled. Also, the obligation can also continue until the child reaches 19, assuming they are still in high school and unmarried.
Mandatory Statewide Formula
When determining support, the courts apply a mandatory state-wide formula that takes into account:
- the parents’ income,
- how much time the children spend with each parent,
- as well as other discretionary factors. (CA Family Code § 4055.)
The formula is designed to result in an award that reflects both parents’ standard of living. In other words, the order may produce in indirect benefit for the custodial parent. Family Code § 4053(f) states: “Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.”
The stated purpose of the Uniform Guideline is to “encourage fair and efficient settlements of conflicts between parents and seeks to minimize the need for litigation.”(Family Code § 4053(j).) Further, case law has made it clear that the trial court no longer has broad discretion in ordering child support. (In re Marriage of Carter, 26 Cal. App. 4th 1024, 33 Cal. Rptr. 2d 1 (1994).)
Despite the stated purpose of the statewide guideline and lack of trial court discretion, there is still substantial amount of litigation regarding the amount of available income. Family law judges define income the same as the Federal Government.
To make sure you don’t fall victim to an unfair order, our legal team will use all available discovery to get an accurate picture of the other parent’s income and assets. In child support proceedings, parties have virtually unlimited access into the other parent’s financial affairs. However, you still need an experienced family law lawyer to properly conduct discovery and seek out all available financial resources.
Support is calculated based on each parent’s income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. You can estimate child support by entering your information in the calculator here.
Under California Family Code §4057(a), the amount is determined using the guidelines is
- “presumed to be the correct amount…”, and
- a court will order the guideline level of support unless there is good cause for ordering a different amount.
While the formula is complex, there are online tools to help you calculate support. The standard software used by family law attorneys is the “Dissomaster”, which can be found by clicking here. The State of California government site also offers this calculator free of charge.
During a contested support hearing hearing, you must bring copies of all the supporting documents you relied on to determine your income. Examples of those documents are:
- Pay Stubs
- W-2 Forms
- Tax Returns
- Income and Expense Declarations, and
- Any other documents that will help the court determine your income.
If you are going through a divorce, you should know that the court has the authority to make temporary child support orders during a divorce proceeding. Further, a court may bifurcate (separate) the issue of support and proceed with that first if necessary. If you’re worried that your children are not receiving the proper support, contact us immediately so that we can evaluate your case.
Child-support orders are not final. If you’ve had a change in circumstances, or a change in custody, you can seek a modification of child support. At Berenji & Associates, our family law and divorce attorneys are highly-experienced in both getting support reduced or increased, depending on the circumstances. If you are seeing to modify child support, call us today to discuss the facts of your case.
Call Berenji & Associates today for a free consultation. Our Los Angeles family law attorneys have years of experience handling these matters. Family courts in Los Angeles can be complicated, and we will help you through the process. We can be reached at (310) 271-6290.