Santa Barbara Child Support Dispute Attorney
Child support is one of the most contentious issues in family law. Many parents feel that their support amounts are vastly unjust, whether they are too high or too low. Parents will commonly fight against co-parents who want to ask for child support, and there is often huge pushback against high support amounts. If the payor misses payments, child support disputes can become nasty.
If you are involved in a child support dispute in California, call the Santa Barbara child support dispute attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our attorneys can schedule a free consultation with you to listen to your case and start planning a strategy to approach your child support dispute. To schedule your free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Types of Child Support Disputes in Santa Barbara
The court can intervene and set child support any time that the parents live separately. This commonly happens in cases of divorce or breakups between unmarried couples, but child support can also be set if the parents are not a couple or never lived together.
The setting of child support is often the first point of dispute in these cases. The parent asked to pay child support may push back or even try to take steps to hide or devalue their assets and income to avoid paying high child support. Parents in need of support payments will often fight as well to get their kids the support payments they need, meaning these battles can be tough from the beginning.
Once the order is set in place, payors will often take steps to try to lower their payments. This may mean making financial changes to their lives or coming back to court with additional arguments to get support payments lowered. If courts are willing to lower child support, the parties may go back and forth for years trying to raise and lower support through child support modification.
Instead of asking the court to lower child support, some payors may simply stop paying. When a parent is behind on child support, the court and your local child support agency (LCSA) have plenty of enforcement techniques to try to get them to pay. We will discuss these options below.
Many payors ultimately want child support ended. There can be disputes involving filings for termination of child support, especially if the custodial parent has remarried or moved in with a new partner who could support the children in their household. The law often does not allow child support to end unless the parent remarries, but disputes concerning termination can also be quite difficult.
Getting Child Support Payments Enforced in California
One of the primary issues in child support cases is non-payment and enforcement. The court and your LCSA are often responsible for enforcing child support payments – not the recipient. A recipient who has back payments owed to them should not take matters into their own hands, but should instead hire a lawyer and talk to their LCSA to get help enforcing child support orders.
Courts in California commonly order child support paid through wage garnishment. In some states, this is used as an enforcement procedure after a payor has shown to be unreliable, but in California it is used almost across the board. This means that payments are taken directly from the parent’s paycheck or bank account, and the parent usually has little access to stop the payments, guaranteeing a steady stream of payments. However, if the payments are stopped anyway, you may need to turn other enforcement techniques to get the child support you are entitled to.
Child support orders are court orders, meaning that violating the order can have serious penalties. Willful non-payment or underpayment can result in criminal charges and fines against the payor. This means that if you get caught paying less than you are supposed to, you could actually face further court proceedings and even arrest.
Other petalites and enforcement procedures are also available. For instance, an individual who has back child support on their record may be barred from renewing their driver’s license. This is a serious inconvenience that forces people to address their back payments in order to restore other rights they would typically have. This can push people toward paying as ordered.
Recipients who are not getting the child support they deserve should hire an attorney and work with their LCSA and the court to enforce payments in this kind of dispute.
Recalculating Child Support
Courts can modify child support orders and recalculate child support whenever there is a substantial change in either parent’s financial situation. However, things that you do by choice to affect your finances typically cannot be used as an excuse to pay less child support. For instance, leaving your job or taking a lower-paying job without a good excuse could be used solely as an attempt to lower child support, and courts will typically leave the support amount at its current value.
Courts also typically see having an additional child as a voluntary decision. As such, having another child will not typically lower your child support and may even double or triple the cost of child support if you now have an additional child to support.
Call Our Santa Barbara Child Support Dispute Lawyers for a Free Case Consultation
If you are facing a child support dispute and need help representing your side of the issue in court, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our Santa Barbara child support dispute lawyers may be able to take your case and fight to protect your rights under California law and the existing child support orders. For a free consultation, call us today at (805) 643-5555.