Child And Spousal Support
One of the key considerations in any divorce or break up is how to best protect yourself financially. Whether you need support or only want to pay a fair amount for your support obligations, having a knowledgable Upland family law attorney is critical to achieving your goals.
California Child Support Law
Under California law, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children until he or she is 18 years of age. If the parents are not living together due to a divorce or break-up, child support may be ordered by a court to ensure that the children are properly supported.
As a general rule, the parent that (1) has a higher income and (2) has less than 50% custody of the child will be required to pay child support. The obligation to pay child support may be continued until a child turns 19, assuming that they are still in high school and unmarried. In some circumstances, such as when a child has special needs, child support obligations may extend past age 19.
California Child & Spousal Support Calculation
California has adopted a mandatory state-wide formula that takes into consideration:
- The income of each parent;
- The amount of time the children spend with each parent; and
- Other discretionary factors.
A child support calculator is available on the State of California’s Child Support Enforcement website. It can be used to estimate monthly child support payments based on the number of children in a child support order, each parent’s net disposable income per month, and the percentage of time that the child(ren) spend with each parent.
By design, the formula results in a child support award that reflects both parents’ standard of living. This may result in a benefit for the custodial parent, as he or she may see an increase in the monthly child support payment in order to improve the standard of living to more closely approximate the standard of living of the non-custodial parent.
While courts have very little discretion in ordering child support under California law, having a skilled Upland family law attorney can help you put together a strong case for against a child support order. Your lawyer can utilize all available legal tools to obtain information about the other parent’s income and assets to help make this argument.
Even though the child support amount determined by the formula is presumed to be correct, a court can order a different level of support based on good cause shown. An experienced Upland family law attorney can represent you at a contested child support hearing, advising you of your rights and obligations throughout the process.
Child Support Modifications
Beyond the initial child support order, if your circumstances change over time, your lawyer can assist you with a modification of the order. For example, if you have had significant increase or decrease in income, if custody has changed, or if a child’s needs have changed due to an accident, injury or health issue, child support may need to be modified.
Child support modifications may be justified by a material change of circumstances, including:
- A change in income of one or both parents;
- A parent has been sent to jail or prison;
- A parent has had a new child;
- The custody arrangements have changed;
- The financial needs of the child have changed;
- A parent has found or lost a job; or
- Any of the factors used in the child support formula have changed.
Child support modifications only apply to future payments. That is why it is important to consult with an Upland family law attorney as soon as possible if you believe that you have a material change in circumstances impacting your support order. A skilled lawyer can advise you on whether your situation qualifies under California law.
California Spousal Support Law
Spousal support involves payments made from one spouse to another under a separation or divorce order. There is no absolute right to spousal support (or alimony) in California. Instead, these payments are designed to help an economically disadvantaged spouse maintain a similar standard of living after a marriage ends. In California, approximately 10 to 15% of all divorce cases involve spousal support.
Because California is a no-fault divorce state, spousal support is not intended to punish one spouse for misconduct. It is meant to ensure that both parties in a marriage are able to maintain a similar standard of living as to what they had during the marriage. Generally, the spouse who earns a higher income will be ordered to pay spousal support to the other spouse.
There are two types of spousal support under California law: temporary, which is paid until the final order of divorce is entered, and permanent, which is paid for an indefinite period of time. Permanent support can be modified at a later time, and may be ended if circumstances change.
The duration of the payments for permanent spousal support depends on the length of the marriage. If a marriage lasts for less than 10 years, spousal support is required for no longer than half of the length of the marriage. If a marriage lasts for 10 years or longer, then it is considered a long-duration marriage. Courts cannot set a termination date for this type of support.
A court will look at a number of factors to determine whether alimony should be granted. These factors may include:
- The length of the marriage;
- Education and job experience of each party;
- Income or income potential of each party
- Each party’s financial needs;
- The parties’ ages and health; and
- The federal and state tax impact of spousal support.
Courts often have discretion in deciding spousal support payments. That is why it is critical to engage an experienced Upland family law attorney to represent you in a divorce case. Your lawyer can request financial documents and other information to advocate on your behalf. This may include putting together a spousal support agreement with your former spouse that can then be approved by a judge. In the future, should your circumstances change, your attorney can also request modification or termination of spousal support.
Child and Spousal Support Attorney in Upland, California
If you want to protect your financial interests during a divorce or breakup, Madden & Associates can help. Our team of dedicated professionals has substantial experience helping clients obtain favorable child or spousal support orders. Attorney James Madden will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case, and apply California law to advocate for the best possible outcome. To schedule a consultation with a seasoned Upland family law attorney, contact Madden & Associates at (909) 581-8390 or via email anytime.