Child support is the amount of money that a court orders a parent to pay for the support of their child. Each parent is equally responsible for providing for the financial needs of their child. A California court cannot enforce a child support obligation until support has been requested and ordered. Support payments usually continue until the child turn 18. Support payments can continue until the age of 19 if the child is still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support themselves.
Either parent can submit a request for support. This can be done when you file for divorce, legal separation, annulment, a domestic violence restraining order, or in a petition for custody. If one parent has been receiving public assistance from the State of California or a California County program, a local agency will automatically file a support case against the noncustodial parent.
Guideline Child Support
Factors for Determining California Child Support
- The number of children involved.
- The father’s income or his earning ability.
- The mother’s income or her earning ability.
- Time spent by each parent caring for the child or children.
- Health insurance and related costs.
- The need for daycare.
Determining Net Disposable Income
The amount of California child support paid by a parent is determined by adding a parent’s income source(s) and then deducting from that any mandatory or unavoidable expenses.
Income sources include: wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, unemployment benefits, self-employment earnings, rental income, dividends, interest, workers compensation and disability benefits, pension and Social Security payments, and any other payments or credits, including lottery and other prize monies, that a parent is owed.
Mandatory or unavoidable deductions include: taxes, health insurance premiums, child support or alimony currently being paid, estimated costs of caring for other children, union dues, and contributions to retirement accounts.
Child Support Modification
Payments of California child support is made according to the incomes of the parents, parenting time, and the financial needs of the child. At some later date, circumstances may change which will allow a parent to petition a court or child support services for a modification by proving a substantial change in circumstances. Child support payments may also be changed if the original support order was set below the state’s guidelines, regardless of whether circumstances have changed.
Some of the issues that can be used to prove substantial change in circumstances include:
- Paying spouse’s loss of work or income.
- Receiving spouse’s increase in income.
- A change in child custody or the amount of time a child spends with each parent.
- A substantial change in the child’s financial needs.
Child Support Set-Aside Order
Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure, § 473, a party has six months from the date of an order that was entered against them to amend for a mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect. After six months, California Family Code § 3690(a) would apply and states in subsection (b): In all proceedings under this division, before granting relief, the court shall find that the facts alleged as the grounds for relief materially affected the original order and that the moving party would materially benefit from the granting of the relief. Grounds for relief under Family Code § 3691 is actual fraud, perjury, or lack of notice. The request for relief must be brought within six months of the date on which you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the grounds for relief.
Under Family Code § 3692, as a condition to granting the relief requested, which may be retroactive, the family court must find that the grounds for relief stated in an application would materially benefit the requesting party. The court cannot set aside a support order simply because the court finds that it was inequitable when it was made, or because subsequent circumstances caused the support amount to be excessive.
Further, under Family Code § 3693, the court is restricted to setting aside only the parts of the support award that are materially affected by the circumstances leading to the court’s decision to grant you relief. However, the court can set aside the entire order based upon equitable considerations.
Family Code § 3652 provides that the court may award attorney fees in favor of the party who prevails in a set aside motion.
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