When a child’s parents separate or divorce, one parent may be required to pay child support. Support obligations are intended to cover a child’s primary expenses, including housing, food, clothing, and medical care. In some instances, these payments might also include contributions to the child’s educational and travel expenses.
Whether you are the parent required to pay child support or the one receiving it, it is essential to get an accurate calculation for these payments. If a support order was previously established in your case, and your financial circumstances have changed, you may need to request a modification. A Ventura County child support lawyer could help fight for fair and appropriate payments or assist you in a modification case. Additionally, our team of family law attorneys could assess your situation and help you prepare for upcoming proceedings.
California Code, Family Code § 4055 sets forth the Statewide Uniform Guidelines, which is the mathematical calculation used to determine child support. The guidelines take numerous factors into account, including but not limited to:
In some situations, parents may wish to agree to a different amount from the one calculated based on the state guidelines. To do so, they must confirm:
When a parent wishes to pay or receive below-guidelines child support, they should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to formalize an agreement that complies with state law. Still, regardless of the situation, it is important to retain a lawyer in Ventura County who is familiar with the statewide child support guidelines and could ensure that the calculation includes all relevant financial information.
Correctly determining the parents’ incomes is essential for an accurate child support calculation. This can be difficult when the parties disagree on how much they earn, or a parent receives income from several different sources. Self-employment could also present challenges, as these individuals may inflate deductible business expenses to lower their net income.
Parents may attempt to avoid or minimize their support obligation by not working or working less than their full earning capacity. In that case, a judge may ‘impute income’ to a parent and calculate support based on what the parent could be earning given their education, training, and prior employment history. An experienced attorney in Ventura County could assess financial reports, bank statements, and other income information to arrive at a parent’s actual income for a child support case.
If a parent seeks a modification of a child support order, they must demonstrate that a significant change in circumstances has occurred since the most recent order. Some examples of changed circumstances that could warrant a modification include shifts in parenting time, an increase or decrease in one or both parents’ incomes, or changes in the child’s needs. If a judge grants a modification, the new support amount could be effective from the date the request to modify was filed. A Ventura County lawyer could determine if the changes warrant a modification request and, if so, assist a parent in a child support hearing.
State law is clear that a child’s needs must be prioritized in a child support case, and the support amount must meet those needs. However, parents may disagree on their income and the amount to contribute to these payments.
Our firm has the experience to accurately determine a parent’s income and correctly calculate child support using the mandated guidelines. We could also determine if a change in a parent’s financial circumstances or a child’s needs justifies modification of an existing order. If you have a question about parental financial obligations, contact a Ventura County child support lawyer today to discuss your case.