The cost of living is higher in California than in most other states, so when a couple with children separates or divorces in San Diego, the payment of child support often becomes a key concern. Divorced parents in San Diego are considered mutually responsible for the financial support of their children, regardless of the determination of physical and legal child custody, and when there is a significant disparity between the incomes or expenses of the two parents, payment of child support may become necessary, to ensure that the children of the divorced parents can enjoy the same or similar quality of life as they did before the dissolution of the marriage. Whether you are owed child support by a former partner, or you have been ordered to pay child support in San Diego, your first course of action should be to contact a knowledgeable and experienced San Diego family law attorney to discuss your case. Our child support attorneys at (619) Divorce have successfully litigated hundreds of divorce and child support cases in San Diego, and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your child support case.
Table of Contents San Diego Child Support Lawyer
Experienced San Diego Child Support Lawyer
In San Diego divorce cases, contentious or not, child support is one of the biggest ongoing expenses divorcing parents may face, and having the right lawyer on your side can make the process of establishing a fair child support payment less stressful for both you and your children. Our family law attorneys at (619) Divorce are committed to protecting the rights of clients facing family law issues every step of the way, from filing for divorce to determining child custody and establishing child support payments. Divorce is devastating enough on its own; children of divorced parents should not also have to suffer a diminished quality of life as a result of their parents’ separation. Unfortunately, in many San Diego divorce cases where one parent has primary physical custody of the children, it is not feasible for that parent to maintain a standard of living that is the same as or similar to that which the children enjoyed before the divorce, which is where child support payments come in.
Often, child support is inextricably linked to child custody, spousal support and other matters arising from a divorce, which can make pursuing child support in San Diego complicated and confusing. Our family law attorneys at (619) Divorce have a clear understanding of San Diego divorce, child support and child custody laws and how they apply to your case, and whether you require assistance collecting past-due child support or contesting a child support order, we can help. For more than a decade, (619) Divorce and Attorney Steve Smith have guided clients through difficult divorces and helped divorcing parents deal with contentious family law matters, like child support, child custody and spousal support disputes. We understand that divorce litigation often leads to financial concerns for both parents, and our main goal is to make sure that your children do not become collateral damage in your divorce. Consult our law firm today for a free evaluation of your San Diego child support case.
Child Support in San Diego
“Child support” is the term used to describe the payments made by one parent to another – usually by the noncustodial parent, or the parent who does not have physical custody of his or her minor child, to the custodial parent, or the parent who does have physical custody of the child – to cover the cost of the child’s day-to-day care and daily living expenses after the parents have divorced. In order to calculate the appropriate child support payment, the state of California has established a formula that takes into consideration a number of variables that may affect each parent’s ability to provide for their children, including the following:
- Each parent’s income
- How much each parent contributes financially to raising and caring for the children
- The ability of each parent to provide the children with financial support
- Cost of daycare or education
- Cost of extracurricular activities
- Any special needs required by the children
- Child support obligations from other relationships
- The number of children from the marriage or relationship
- Healthcare expenses and the cost of health insurance premiums
- Disparities between the custodial and noncustodial home that may be corrected with adequate child support payments
- Cost of travel for visitation
Where other areas of family law are more flexible and open to interpretation, child support is more strictly defined, and under state law, a judge is only permitted to deviate from the child support guidelines formula in special circumstances, which may work in your favor or not, depending on your specific situation. Whatever the circumstances of your San Diego divorce, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the standard child support payment for your situation, so you can make an informed decision about whether to reach an agreement with your former partner or take the case to court.
California: A No-Fault Divorce State
If you are going through a divorce in San Diego, you may find that the quality of life your children can expect to enjoy will depend a great deal on the court’s decision in terms of child support. As mentioned above, there are many variables to consider when establishing the proper child support arrangement for divorced parents raising children together, but fault in the divorce is not one of these variables. In California, all divorces are “no-fault” divorces, which means the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something to warrant a dissolution of the marriage. Instead, the couple may divorce on the basis of “irreconcilable differences,” which simply means they could not get along. Additionally, courts in San Diego will typically not consider the fault of either parent in establishing the terms of child custody or child support.
When Child Support is Required
Generally speaking, in a San Diego divorce, the parent granted primary physical custody of the children (the custodial parent) will receive child support payments from the other parent (the noncustodial parent). However, there is a common misconception in terms of child support that divorced parents who share custody 50-50 do not pay child support, but that is not always the case, especially if one parent’s income is significantly higher than the other. In this case, the parent with the higher income may still be required to pay child support to the other parent, even if they have equal custody of their children. In the state of California, child support payments are mandatory until the child turns 18, or, if the child is unmarried and still enrolled in high school at that time, the payments must continue until the child turns 19, or until he or she graduates high school, whichever comes first.
Child Support Modifications
In some cases, the court may allow parents to request a modification of a child support order, either to increase or decrease the required child support payment. This is typically only the case when there is a considerable change in circumstances affecting one parent or the other. The following are some factors the court may look at when considering a child support modification:
- If a parent’s income has significantly increased or decreased
- If there has been a significant increase or decrease in health insurance costs
- If a parent’s responsibility in caring for the child has changed (i.e. due to a modification in child custody or in the percentage of time the child spends with the parent)
- If a parent has experienced any other significant change in financial or life circumstances
Seeking Child Support in San Diego
Whatever your former partner’s relationship with your child, child support is part of his or her duty as a parent, to provide for the child’s food, clothing, shelter and other basic living and medical expenses. If both parents in a divorce proceeding can come to an agreement on child support on their own, without dispute, they can simply have a written child custody agreement drafted and avoid going to court altogether. However, if the parents are unable to agree on child support terms, the custodial parent can petition the court to order the noncustodial parent to pay child support, in which case, the court will decide the terms of the child support agreement. In order to initiate the payment of child support in San Diego, a divorced or separated parent must request a court order for child support. If the minor child is not a child of the marriage, the parent may also be required to request a court order to establish parentage.
The state of California takes child support payments extremely seriously and there are laws in place in California that assist custodial parents in collecting “arrears,” or past-due child support payments, and ensuring that future payments are made in a timely manner. If your former partner has failed to make child support payments or consistently makes late payments, a San Diego child support lawyer can help you pursue the support payments you are owed. It is important to note that withholding visitation rights from your child’s noncustodial parent to force payment of child support is not a legal option. Rather than attempting to collect past-due child support on your own, you should consult an attorney with experience handling divorce and child support cases in San Diego.
How a San Diego Child Support Lawyer Can Help
The state of California has guidelines in place for calculating child support payments and even if your child support case goes to court, the judge will use the same formula to establish the payment of child support. Still, it is always a good idea to hire an experienced family law attorney to assist you when child support payments are at issue. State child support guidelines are not always set in stone and with the help of a skilled attorney, you may be able to present certain extenuating circumstances to the court to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of financial support your child is entitled to.
The bottom line is, you want to ensure that you receive a child support payment that is fair and that allows your children to enjoy the same or similar quality of life as before the divorce, and having a San Diego family law attorney in your corner can help you get the best possible outcome in your child support case. If you and your former partner are open to reaching a child support resolution privately, our San Diego family law attorneys at (619) Divorce can help you draft an agreement that is in the best interest of your children. If both parents are unable to agree on a child support arrangement, our attorneys can represent you in your court case and ensure that your legal rights are protected. If you have a court order for child support payments, and you are not receiving the payments on time or at all, we can advise you of the best course of action for recovering the support your child is entitled to.
Consult Our San Diego Child Support Lawyers
Generally speaking, child support is a relatively straightforward issue in San Diego, with a strict formula specifically designed to consider a variety of key variables in calculating the appropriate amount of child support payments. That being said, there may be certain facts and evidence your attorney can present to a judge to generate a more favorable child support agreement for your children. Steve Smith and the family law attorneys at (619) Divorce understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that you can provide for your children and maintain their quality of life. If you require assistance establishing child support, requesting a child support modification, or collecting past-due child support in San Diego, do not hesitate to seek legal guidance from an attorney specializing in San Diego child support cases. Contact our skilled family law attorneys at (619) Divorce today to schedule your free initial consultation.