San Jose Child Support Attorney
Helping Ensure Support for Your Child
California requires both parents provide financial support for their children. This may involve one parent paying child support to the other.
No matter which side of the equation you are on, you should talk with an experienced attorney about your financial future and that of your children. Our San Jose child support attorneys at Foster Hsu, LLP, can help you understand how courts determine child support in California and what the next steps are for you and your children.
Call 408-841-7200 to make an appointment at our San Jose office.
How Does California Decide Child Support?
California determines who pays what amount of child support based on a formula developed by the state legislature. The court will consider all sources of income, including, but not limited to:
- Employment earnings
- Self-employment earnings
- Unemployment, disability and Social Security benefits
- Stock dividends and interest earnings
- Lottery and prize winnings
When factoring in the incomes of each parent to determine the appropriate amount of child support, the court will consider the amount of time the children spend with each parent, and include some expenses such as health insurance premiums, union dues, property tax and mortgage interest. All of these factors are plugged into a standard formula that determines the monthly amount of support one parent will owe to the other. In addition to the base guideline formula the Court may order that the parents split add-on expenses such as the children’s child care and schooling needs, their medical care expenses, and other child-rearing expenses.
Why is an Attorney Needed for Child Support Determinations?
Even though the courts apply a statutory formula to determine the amount of child support, an experienced divorce lawyer can still prove invaluable in many ways. For instance, the court may rely on information provided by the parents regarding their assets and income, but one parent may try to underreport income or hide assets to affect how much child support the parent will have to pay. A parent may even become voluntarily unemployed or underemployed to game the system. If this is happening, the parent receiving support may need legal help in proving to the court what the other parent’s income actually is.
Also, even though the court presumes that the formula results in the correct amount of child support, this presumption can be rebutted by proving it would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case. The court can deviate from the formula if a parent can prove any of the following:
- The parents agreed on a different amount of child support, and the court approves.
- Instead of selling the family home in the property division, the custodial parent continues to live with the child in the residence, but the rental value of the home exceeds the cost of mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes.
- The paying parent’s income is extraordinarily high, and the formula amount exceeds the children’s needs.
- One parent is not contributing to the children’s needs at a level commensurate with the parent’s custodial time.
- The parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children, calling for a different amount of support.
- The parents share parenting time roughly equally, but one parent uses a much higher or lower percentage of income for housing than the other parent.
- A child has special medical or other needs requiring a greater amount of support.
- A child has more than two parents.
Can a Parent Get a Support Order if the Parents Were Never Married?
Parents are obligated to support their children financially, regardless of whether they were ever married to each other. A custodial parent seeking support should bring an action in court to compel support from the other parent. If a father’s parentage has not been officially established through a voluntary declaration of paternity, the mother will need to prove paternity in court, as only a legally recognized father can be ordered to pay support. A paternity case may include genetic testing upon request of one or both of the parties, although other evidence which tends to prove or disprove paternity may be sufficient, as well. Once paternity is established, the father may seek to enforce rights of child custody and visitation, which will be granted unless proven it would not be in the child’s best interests.
What if Circumstances Later Change Regarding Child Support Needs or the Ability to Pay?
Court orders for child support can be changed if a parent can prove there has been a significant change in the factors which were initially used to determine child support. Changes that could justify a modification of child support include new needs arising for the children, an up or down change in income for either parent, or a change in the amount of timeshare. A change in the visitation arrangement could even cause a change in which parent pays support.
It is up to the parent requesting a modification to prove the need for a change as soon as the change occurs. Failure to act when the change occurs may result in an overpayment or underpayment of support. If the other parent opposes a modification, a hearing in court will need to occur in order for the Judge to make a decision.
Make An Appointment with Skilled and Dedicated San Jose Child Support Attorneys
Child support can help a parent continue caring for their children even after divorce. The San Jose child support attorneys at Foster Hsu, LLP can help you determine the appropriate amount of child support in your case. Contact us online or call 408-841-7200 to make an appointment with a lawyer in our office.