Child Support

Every parent has the obligation to financially support his or her minor children.  Usually, this is done privately within the confines of the home and without government involvement.  However, when the parents get divorced, or when they were never married, the State has an interest in making sure that the minor children continue to be cared for by the parents as opposed to relying on public assistance.  As such, the courts are authorized to order a parent to pay child support.

The State of California has a specific formula for calculating the amount of child support.  The formula takes a variety of factors into account including the number of children the couple has together, the amount of time each parent spends with each child, the annual income of each parent, tax exemptions and deductions, childcare costs, and other factors.  Since the calculation is rather complex, most attorneys and judges use a software program called DissoMaster.

Once a child support order is made, it remains in effect until the child reaches the age of 18 and has graduated from high school, the child reaches the age of 19, or further order of the court, whichever occurs first.

Circumstances may change over time, so a child support order may need to be modified.  The most common changes in circumstances warranting a modification of child support include a change in the income of either parent, a change in the custodial time share of either parent, changes in the tax status or deductions of either parent, and changes in childcare costs.

It is important to note that oral agreements between the parents that seek to change the amount of monthly child support are not enforceable without the agreement being put into writing, signed by both parents, and submitted to the court for the judge's signature.

The parent receiving child support may serve a Wage Assignment Order on the other parent's employer.  This will cause the employer to withhold the child support from each pay check and send it to the state processing unit where it is then sent to the receiving parent.  By utilizing a Wage Assignment Order, the issues of late payments and missed payments are basically eliminated.