Santa Barbara Child Support Lawyer
In any family where the parents do not live together, California law suggests having a child support order in place. This order dictates who pays child support, how much they pay, and other details about how to get the children the financial support they need. Alongside a child custody order, this can be an incredibly helpful tool to help you enforce your children’s right to support funds.
If you want to file for child support or modify an existing child support order, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth to discuss your case. Our attorneys represent mothers and fathers in the Santa Barbara area and help them with their child support cases. For a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Getting Child Support in California
To get child support in the first place, you need to file with the courts. While some parents may work out informal child support agreements, courts in California like to see all child custody and child support agreements approved by a judge and given the force of law so that the parents can help protect their children’s bests interests.
If you want to file for child support, you will likely need to file for child custody as well. Who has child custody is one of the biggest factors in determining who will pay child support and how much they will need to pay. Most child custody orders give one parent “primary” custody, which gives them access to the children for a greater proportion of the year (i.e., more than a 50/50 share). A parent with children living with them will pay for expenses and support needs such as clothes, groceries, and school supplies out of pocket. Child support primarily pays this parent back by giving them additional funds to offset the cost.
Which parent has custody is not, however, the only factor in determining who pays support. The court will also look at each parent’s ability to pay, dividing the support burden so that parents who are able to pay more will pay more. If the parent with primary custody also makes more money, they may justifiably be denied support if they can afford to pay more towards the support burden than the other parent. A parent with sole physical custody usually gets at least some support payments to defray their expenses, even if they are quite wealthy.
Talk to an attorney about taking your child support case to court and deciding who will pay child support.
Calculating Child Support Amounts in California
In determining the actual value assigned for child support, courts look at many additional factors. Each parent’s ability to pay is once again a factor, which requires courts to look at each parent’s financial situation.
Either parent’s cost of living, medical expenses for disability, time spent raising children instead of working, and other factors may limit their finances. This could lower the amount of support that they pay or increase the amount they are entitled to, since they cannot afford to support their children with their own money. The number of children you pay to support will also increase support payments with each additional child adding a smaller amount rather than doubling or tripling the support cost.
Child support is typically extracted from paychecks and bank accounts directly. Many states use this kind of wage garnishment as a penalty or enforcement strategy, but it is actually quite common for child support payments in California. If the parent does not pay or pays too little anyway, other enforcement procedures may be available to ensure they pay the full amount.
Modifying Child Support Orders in California
Any time either parent’s underlying financial factors change, the court may be able to modify the child support order. It is important to go through the courts rather than resorting to self-help; courts will not look kindly upon parents who underpay or stop payments without court approval. If you need to lower child support or you need to receive additional child support, contact a lawyer to discuss modifying your support order.
The child support order is intended to reflect the financial situation at the time the order is created. Finances change if either parent takes a higher paying job, develops a physical disability that keeps them from working, or has a child leave their care and graduate high school. Many of these factors can be grounds to modify the existing child support, changing the amount.
Note that even if your child “graduates” from support by turning 18 and graduating high school, you must continue to pay support until the court says you can stop. You may file to have the child support order terminated as soon as your child is old enough, but you cannot actually stop paying without violating the order until the court approves the termination.
Talk to a lawyer about terminating or modifying child support if your child becomes an adult, you undergo financial hardships, the other parent takes a higher paying job, or if either parent undergoes other significant financial changes.
Santa Barbara Child Support Attorney Offering Free Legal Consultations
If you are recently divorced, separating from your partner, or have recently had a child with someone you do not live with and you want to file for child support, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our Santa Barbara child support lawyers offer free legal consultations to help you understand how to file for child support, who will likely pay child support in your case, and how much support you may receive or pay. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.