How Is Child Support Determined?
California law provides that both parents have a general obligation to support their minor children, both natural and adopted, whether or not the parents were married. Child support can be requested by one party from the other through an action for dissolution, legal separation, nullity, paternity or a domestic violence action.
In general terms, child support is based upon the incomes of both parties, which parent has custody and how much time the non-custodial parent has with the child or children.
Once the information is collected, a computer program, used by both attorneys and judges, calculates support.
Child support is always modifiable and may be changed when either party's financial circumstances change or there is a change in the custody or visitation schedule. The revised law effective July 1, 1992 in most cases dramatically increased the level of support being ordered. A consultation with an attorney utilizing the computer program will give you an idea of the possible increase or decrease in the amount of support you are paying or receiving.
Enforcing Payment of Child Support
Once you have obtained a valid order for child support, you may enforce the payment for the support in several ways.
The best method of enforcing support payments is by wage assignment. California law now creates a mandatory and immediate wage assignment in connection with all support orders. A wage assignment will be ordered at the time the order for support is made. It is then provided to the payor's place of employment. The employer is required by law, without repercussion to the employee, to honor the wage assignment and deduct the child support from the payor's salary or wages.
Besides a wage assignment, other methods of enforcing the payment of support include placing liens on property, obtaining security deposits, contempt proceedings, etc. It is advisable to consult with an attorney, since the viability of these options depend greatly on individual circumstances. If you cannot afford to consult with a private attorney, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will enforce support orders for parents receiving public assistance benefits. DCSS will also enforce non-aid cases although they currently do not have the same priority. For that reason, many people enforce support orders themselves or seek the assistance of a private attorney.
To learn more about child support in California please contact the family law lawyers at Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP.
* The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization