Parents each have a duty to support their child(ren). This duty is derived from Family Code §3900. The Court retains jurisdiction (or power) to order child support for a child who is
- a full time student in high school;
- not self supporting, nor emancipated.
The support continues to the completion of 12th grade, or age 19. However, parents are free to enter into an agreement to provide support beyond age 18; the Court has discretion to enforce such agreements.
What is the role of the California Child Support Department?
The California Child Support Department (CCSD) is responsible for establishing and enforcing support orders when a child receives public assistance, or when a parent or legal caretaker requests their services for establishing or enforcing child support orders. CCSD services include
- Opening a case,
- Locating absent parents,
- Establishing a legal parent-child relationship,
- Establishing child and medical support orders, and
- Enforcing support orders.
They provide all such services at little or no cost to you. The CCSD does not represent parents, but acts on behalf of the child with assistance from the custodial parent. At times CCSD calculations, or any demand for Child Support payments are incorrect. As such, you will need to file a motion with the court to resolve discrepancies.
How is Child Support determined?
Child Support calculation includes
- The parent’s percentage timeshare,
- The number of children, and
- The gross incomes of the parents.
The Court uses court approved calculating software to input each parent’s gross income, the number of children, and the percentage of their custodial time, to come up with a figure. That figure is child support and it is payable by the non-custodial or higher earning parent to the custodial or lower earning parent.
A child should benefit from the fruit of their parent’s incomes at the same level. Therefore, if a parent is earning a large sum, child support will be much higher and the court will not utilize the same software for calculation of child support. For parents who earn more than $150,000 per year, the court will consider their lifestyle. The standard of living of a parent, relative to their situation in life, is a factor in determining child support. A child has a presumptive right to enjoy a lifestyle commensurate with his/her parents’ standard of living. Such a support order could be limited, based on the “reasonable needs of the child”.
Income is the principal consideration in fixing child support, with some exceptions.
What is income?
The court has a broader discretion to include or exclude from consideration the money that might be considered income for the purpose of setting support.
At Nouri Law, we have successfully argued that “loan applications” signed under penalty of perjury, rather than tax returns, should be considered in determining support. We relied on In Re Marriage of Calcaterra and Badakhsh (2005) in that case.
Standard of Living is a broad concept, with a different application in determining Child Support as opposed to Spousal Support. Standard of living in Spousal Support is a reference point only in determining reasonable needs, and in maintaining the marital status quo for permanent support.
What is considered “income” is a question that an attorney can answer based upon case law and applicable statutes. An attorney will consider the following in ascertaining “income”:
- Whether disability income is income for calculation of child support.
- Whether proceeds from a personal injury case could be considered for support.
- Whether available cash in savings or at brokerage accounts could be considered for support purposes.
- Whether your company income and tax returns are subject to disclosure for the purpose of setting child support.
- Whether you are able to deduct some fringe benefits payable by your company, or whether such fringe benefits are added to your income for purposes of setting child support.
We can answer these and many other questions once we are able to review your income, tax returns and prior orders, if any.