Child Support Lawyers in Los Angeles, Looking Out for Your Child’s Best Interests
Not every relationship is destined to work out, and in many instances, this results in situations where a child’s parents are not together. This often creates tension in relationships and a difficult time for those involved, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Of course, it’s necessary that both parents provide financial support for their child. This very frequently leads to disagreements over who should pay what. Fortunately, a child support lawyer in Los Angeles, CA may be able to simplify this issue for you and ensure the best interests of the child are accounted for.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, our team understands that going to court is sometimes necessary. Unfortunately, this approach is far too often the default option. California courts want parents to be able to reach their own agreements, and this applies to everything from custodial arrangements to child support payments. While it may seem impossible to reach such an agreement, you may be surprised at what a Los Angeles family law attorney may be able to help you accomplish. Call or contact the Kim Mediation and Law Center for a free consultation to learn more.
Is a Court Order for Child Support Payments Required?
Child support orders are most frequently issued as part of a divorce or when one parent seeks financial support payments from the other. Of course, a court order isn’t necessary for a parent to uphold their financial obligations. Former partners frequently decide amongst themselves how much and how frequently one parent should pay the other. While it’s great that these individuals can work together in such a way, they can still benefit from speaking with a child support attorney to learn more about their situation and get an agreement in writing.
Without a court order — which may be nothing more than what the two parents agreed upon in advance — a variety of potential issues could arise. For instance, there would be no order in place if a noncustodial parent decided to simply stop making payments. You’d also need to be incredibly good at financial record keeping in case an issue arose later on. More importantly, a child may not be receiving the support they deserve if the financial situation of each parent is not accounted for. To put it simply, having a child support agreement on file is the best approach for all involved.
If you need help drafting such an agreement to submit to the courts, the legal professionals at Kim Mediation and Law Center can help.
Which Parent Has to Pay Child Support?
Under California law, both parents have financial responsibilities for their child. This means that — in a way — each individual is paying child support. When it comes to one person sending money to another, however, it’s typically the custodial parent that receives payments. That’s because courts assume that the parent who has their child most of the time spends a fair amount of their income on support. Child support guidelines in the state will determine the level of payments that are required.
Of course, such guidelines do not account for many situations. Courts will often try to adjust their ruling in such instances, and this is why the guidelines are not set in stone when issuing a child support order. Of course, you and your former partner know your situation better than anyone else. This means it’s often possible to reach an agreement with the help of a child support lawyer in Los Angeles without visiting a court house. If you can reach an agreement with the other parent, a local attorney can file the appropriate paperwork for you.
Determining Child Support Payments in California
Whether you’ve resigned yourself to litigation or are trying to figure out the payments a custodial parent should receive, it’s helpful to understand how child support payments are calculated in California. This is done through a simple formula that takes various issues into account. Your attorney can help you better understand what goes into such calculations, but the child support amount is typically decided with the following formula: CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN)).
In this calculation, CS stands for the child support payment. K is the combined income of the child’s parents. HN is the disposable monthly income of the higher-earning parent. H% refers to the percentage of time the higher-earning parent will be physically primarily responsible for their child. TN is both parents’ monthly disposable income. This calculation doesn’t work in every situation — such as when one parent pays a significant portion of their income on housing or when there are multiple children involved who spend varying amounts of time with each parent.
This makes it clear why California courts prefer it when parents can come together and figure out child support payments on their own. Of course, simply reaching an agreement does not mean the court will approve. Whether this occurs depends on several things. For instance, if one parent chooses to pay more than the child support calculation, it’s likely that the agreement will be approved. If an agreement is reached that’s below the guideline, however, a judge will want to ensure both parents understand their rights before approving anything.
Do I Need a Child Support Attorney?
Family law attorneys are knowledgeable in how child support cases typically play out. This makes them an invaluable resource for parents trying to decide how to move forward. This is especially the case when other issues — such as custody or marital asset division — are involved. If you’re equipped with the California guidelines and willing to work with the other parent, though, are child support attorneys really necessary? In a perfect world, they wouldn’t be. However, they’re extremely helpful in most situations.
As discussed in the last section, even an agreement between two parents will not automatically be approved in court. A legal professional can help ensure you’re following the appropriate guidelines so there aren’t any hiccups in the process. Los Angeles child support attorneys can also help make sure the proper paperwork is filed in a timely manner. California courts are all about following the appropriate procedure, and most individuals simply have little experience in doing so.
There are also situations that can arise after an agreement or court order has been issued. For instance, a child support modification may become necessary if there’s a significant change in circumstances. And if one parent owes child support arrears, an attorney can help ensure support resumes. Of course, it’s possible to work together even when one parent is behind on payments. Speak with a child support attorney today to learn how you may be able to avoid the costly difficulties that come along with litigation.
How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support in California?
When child support lawyers are asked how long an individual has to make payments, the answer they typically give is “until the child turns 18.” This is a good answer, and it’s accurate in most situations. However, family law is quite complex in California. There are some instances where a child’s circumstances may dictate that payments end before that time or even persist after. For instance, an order to support minors may continue until the age of 19 if the child is still in high school. Additionally, ongoing support payments may be ordered if a child lives with a disability that makes supporting themselves difficult or impossible.
The possibility also exists that a parent may be able to cease payments before the child turns 18. You should discuss these situations with child support lawyers before unilaterally deciding to end support:
Child becomes emancipated
Child gets married
Child joins the Armed Forces
In any of these situations, a parent will typically no longer have a financial obligation to their child. That’s because California family law dictates that the child can care for themselves or has other financial support at this point. Courts can also end payments in other situations on a case-by-case basis. Changes in circumstances necessitate a reconsideration of payments. Before altering payments yourself or immediately heading to court, though, consider reaching out to a child support attorney in Los Angeles, CA.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we can help you figure out the best way forward.
When Is Litigation Appropriate for Child Support?
It’s a great thing when child support attorneys can help you stay out of court. By reaching an agreement on your own, a stressful child support hearing can be avoided entirely. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the right approach. There will be situations when those providing legal assistance should suggest taking your case before a family law judge to decide on child support orders. The following situations typically fall into this category:
Dispute over child custody case: If you’re involved in a child custody dispute that’s already made its way to court due to an inability to compromise, a judge will likely issue a child support order as part of their ruling. This doesn’t mean a modification isn’t possible, but if custody cannot be agreed upon, litigation may be necessary for support.
History of domestic violence: Avoiding family law court dictates that both parents be able to speak freely and negotiate an agreement. An experienced child support attorney can help with this via mediation or a collaborative approach, but if there’s a history of violence, it’s likely that one spouse will not feel comfortable standing up for themselves.
Continued order non-compliance: It’s understandable that people experience financial difficulties. This is why family courts don’t always send folks to jail for missed payments. If someone has the ability to cover their Los Angeles child support but refuses, however, they are engaged in a crime. If they’re breaking the law, they’re likely unamenable to negotiations.
Bad faith behavior by a parent: Bad faith can happen in a variety of ways. Perhaps an individual quit their job to avoid providing health insurance to their child. Maybe they’re lying about their income to affect the support calculation for a child’s financial needs. Regardless of the situation, bad faith behavior likely means litigation is appropriate.
Fortunately, these don’t account for the majority of situations. A Los Angeles child support attorney can help you handle these issues in court, but when your situation is simpler, the possibility for an agreement without litigation is very possible. Even if the prospect of you and your former partner agreeing on something seems unlikely, family law attorneys with experience in mediation and the collaborative law approach may be able to help. Sometimes, all it takes is a neutral third party or sense of cooperation to help move things along.
Contact a Child Support Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA Today
Some level of stress accompanies the end of every relationship — regardless of how amicable the split may be. When a minor child is involved, however, things often become more complex. Child support obligations are a common outcome of such situations since the best interests of the child are always paramount. Unfortunately, deciding on the level of support payments isn’t always the easiest thing. This is why California courts have specific guidelines they go by, but there typically isn’t much “wiggle room” in these guidelines. That’s why an early initial consultation with a family law professional can prove invaluable.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we understand the difficulties inherent to child support issues. We also understand that fighting over these payments in court can cause undue tension for both parties and even stress for the children involved. That’s why you’ll have access to both mediation and the collaborative law approach at our law firm. Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a child support lawyer in Los Angeles, CA. It may turn out that you and your former partner have to go to court, but our legal team can help you figure out if there’s another way forward.