Millions of Californians receive child support to help raise their children. Child support is an important part of many families’ ability to support their children, especially today when marriage rates are low and divorce rates are high. The Ventura child support lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain when you are entitled to child support in California. For help with your case and help understanding if you are personally entitled to child support, contact our law offices to schedule a free legal consultation.

When Can I Claim Child Support in California?

Child support is generally available to any parent who has custody of a child in their household while the other parent does not live in the same household. This means that single parents, divorced parents, and parents who are legally separated may all be entitled to child support. You may also be entitled to child support if the other parent was kicked out of your house under a protection from abuse order or restraining order.

There are some detailed requirements that must also be met to qualify for child support. Many of these are common sense requirements, but it is important to look at the requirements to determine whether you might be able to claim child support:

Only Legal Parents Pay Child Support

The other parent must be a legal “parent” to claim child support from them. If they are not listed on the child’s birth certificate or they have not adopted the child, they are not a “parent,” and they will typically have no requirement to pay child support. Instead, you may need to go to court to prove paternity or otherwise prove the parent is the legal parent.

You Must Have Custody

You must have legal custody and have the child living in your household to claim child support from the other parent. Things can become complicated with adoption cases or cases involving stepchildren, and parents may actually have no custody to back a claim for child support. Courts can order child support for grandparents if the grandparent has custody.

You Need a Court Order

Child support is not automatic. You may be able to work something out informally with the other parent where they will pay you child support, but it is best to put a court order in place. Without a court order demanding child support payments, the other parent may have no legal requirement to pay child support – or, at least, you will have no way of enforcing their requirement to pay child support.

Claiming Child Support During a Divorce

If you are in the process of filing for divorce against the parent of your children, you can typically claim child support as part of those proceedings. You must go to court to get a finalized divorce decree, and your marriage will still be in effect until the court declares the divorce final. Courts typically will require you to have a child custody and child support order in place before they finalize the divorce.

This means that if you are getting divorced, the child support order should be taken care of at the time of the divorce. However, you can always go back and request that the order be modified later. This can happen any time the factors used in calculating child support undergo a “material” change. That means that if you lose your job, have another child, have a child turn 18 and graduate high school, or undergo another life change, you or the other parent may be able to file to have the child support order and child support payments modified.

Claiming Child Support Without Getting Married

California law has no requirement that you must be married to the other parent to claim child support. In fact, many child support cases govern parents who were never married.

As a parent of a child, you are entitled to have a court order child support any time you and the other parent live in different households. If you break up with the other parent or were not in a relationship in the first place, you may still claim child support.

To get a court to order child support, you must also submit to a child custody order. In a child custody case, the court will look at each parent’s ability to parent and the safety of each parent and their household. The court may order joint custody, meaning that each parent shares access to the child. If the other parent does not want custody, a court may still order child support to help you support the children in your household.

Lawyer for Child Support Claims in Ventura, California Offering Free Consultations

If you are trying to raise your child as a single parent or you have recently undergone a divorce or legal separation, you may be entitled to child support payments. Talk to one of our Ventura family lawyers about the specifics of your case to learn more about filing for child support or filing for child support modification. To schedule a free, confidential legal consultation today, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth at (805) 643-5555.