At Fischer & Van Thiel we understand how important your children and their well-being are to you, and by extension, how important it is for you to provide them with the money and support they need. The Carlsbad child support attorneys of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP have dedicated their careers to helping families provide the financial support their children need to be successful, and we may be able to put our experience and our discretion to work for you. Whether you are on the paying or receiving side of child support payments, we may be able to help you get the agreement that is best for you and your family. To discuss your needs and concerns with our Carlsbad child support lawyers, please contact us today by calling 760-722-7669.
Carlsbad and North County San Diego Child Support Legal Issues
At Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, we recognize how delicate a subject child support is, and how personal it is for each family facing such a decision. We have a wealth of experience on both ends of the spectrum, and may be able to help you draft the right agreement for your family. We may also be able to help with the following concerns:
- Modifications to Support Agreements
- Enforcing Support Agreements
Your family is important to you, and that is important to us. We are deeply committed to providing experienced, respectful representation to the people who need us most.
Can I Be Forced To Pay Child Support Without a DNA Test? Can parents make their own Child Support Agreements? For more information on California child support including calculations and guidelines, or to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Carlsbad divorce law attorney, please contact us by filling out our online intake form or calling us at 760-722-7669.
Q & A with Fischer & Van Thiel
How is child support determined? Once support is established, is it easy or difficult to have it changed?
California family courts mainly consider two factors when calculating child support:
- Each parent’s income.
- Time spent by each parent with the child/children.
Additional factors that can be considered include:
- Child care expenses,
- Home mortgage payments,
- Tax filing status, and
- Other costs that impact the family’s financial situation.
All California judges and courts follow the same guidelines when calculating child support obligations. This formula is so complicated that the court depends on a computer program to calculate monthly child support amounts, which makes a calculation based on information provided by the parents. That information includes:
- The income of the parents from all sources including wages and self-employment income,
- Mortgage and property tax obligation and other mandatory expenses.
- The number of children that the parents have together.
- The number of children from prior relationships.
- Any other outstanding court-ordered support obligations.
- The time the child spends in each parent’s physical custody.
- Required union dues.
- Health insurance costs.
- Mandatory retirement contributions
- The income of a new spouse if either of the parents remarried.
You can obtain a rough estimate of these payments through the state’s Department of Child Support Services. One or both parents (or the LCSA if they are involved) may want to modify the child support order. The party seeking the change needs to show that there has been a “change in circumstances” since the child support order was made, unless the child support ordered is below the guideline amount, a change can be requested at any time and a change in circumstances need not be shown. Possible reasons why a child support order might need to be changed include:
- The income of one or both parents has changed.
- A parent has become unemployed or incarcerated.
- A parent had another child from another relationship.
- There are significant changes in the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
- The child’s needs may have changed and costs for child care, health care or education may have gone up or down.
- There have been changes in any of the factors that are used to calculate child support.
Whether it will be easy or difficult to change the support order depends on the situation. The more drastic the economic changes or changes in the family, the easier it will be to argue a change is justified. Generally judges will look very closely at requests to modify a child support order and will not make changes unless there is good cause to do so. If you and the other parent of your child can’t agree as to whether child support payments should be changed, contact our office through our evaluation form so we can discuss the facts of the situation and how the law affects you and your child.
How does child support get from the parent who is paying to the parent that is receiving it?
If the parents are married, either one must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment. If the parents are unmarried, either must file an action to establish the parental relationship. There is no legal obligation to pay child support until there is a court order in place, which can be obtained after a hearing. There are two types of child support orders, governmental and non-governmental.
- A non-governmental child support order is an order made in a family law case by a judge or family law commissioner where the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS, a governmental agency) is not involved.
- A governmental child support order is an order made by a child support commissioner in a case filed or enforced by the DCSS.
After you get a child support court order, the other parent must start making child support payments to you. The court order will include a start date for the child support.
- The court will order that a wage assignment (garnishment) be issued and served.
- It tells the parent’s employer to take the support payments out that person’s wages.
- Funds are deducted by the employer and remitted directly to the custodial parent.
If the local child support agency (LCSA) is not involved, both parents can agree that payments are to be made in some other way and they can ask that service of the wage assignment on the employer be “stayed” (or delayed). If an LCSA is involved, it must to agree to have the wage assignment “stayed.” Generally, if a case is open in the LCSA, the agency will keep an active wage assignment in place with the current employer.
If child support is an issue you are facing, contact our office at 760-722-7669 so we can discuss your situation and how the laws apply in your case
What should I do if child support has been established but my ex is not paying?
If the other parent is not paying the amount contained in the court order, there are several steps we can take to help you.
For a party to be found in contempt of the support order, the parent receiving the support has the burden to show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the other parent is aware of the order and capable of meeting its obligations. If found in contempt, the parent would be subject to another order that obligations be met and the non-paying parent potentially could face jail time and fines.
- Wage Assignment Order
California law requires that courts issue an earnings assignment for all support orders. This requires the payor parent’s employer (assuming he or she is employed, if not, see below) to directly pay support to its recipient.
- Writs of Execution and Seizure
This type of court order could result in the liquidation of the other parent’s assets and have the funds transferred to the custodial parent. A writ of seizure can be executed against property and bank accounts to satisfy missed or insufficient support payments.
- Motion for Determination of Arrearages
If the amount of support is disputed, either parent can file a motion for determination of arrearages which could result in a hearing to come up with a determination if any money is owed and if so, how much.
- Child Support Security Account/Electronic Funds Transfer
A parent required to pay child support may be asked to deposit as much as a year’s worth of payments into an interest-bearing account held in trust for the child. This is normally done to ensure continued support from those who often move between employers or are self-employed. Disbursements would cover payments that are overdue by ten or more days.
Whether you’re the custodial or payor parent and there’s a dispute over child support payments, contact us at 760-722-7669 so we can discuss the situation and your legal options.
Am I able to settle outside of court? Can I use a mediator? If so, how does this work?
The parents can agree amongst themselves the appropriate amount of child support outside a court proceeding, with the understanding it will need to be approved by the judge. Judges are normally reluctant to order payments below the state guidelines but should be more open to a higher amount as long as the parent paying it fully understands the agreement and freely consents to it. Before a judge will approve an agreement, both parents must declare the following under oath or in writing:
- You know your rights under California child support law.
- The agreement isn’t the result of coercion or duress.
- The agreed upon amount is in the best interest of your minor children and will adequately meet their needs.
- The minor children are not on welfare and no application for welfare is pending.
A mediator is a neutral third party who helps the parties come to a resolution on the issues dividing them. Mediators are often attorneys with a family law practice or retired judges. Use of a skilled mediator can by highly effective when two parents cannot agree on issues concerning their children.
Often child support is not the only issue in dispute (which can include how much time is spent with the child, when; religious upbringing and healthcare decisions) and all these issues may be resolved at one time.
The process starts when the parties agree on who will be the mediator and schedule a mediation. Both sides present their side of the issues, the mediator may have questions for both parties, try to determine their ultimate goals, separate the sides and shuttle back and forth between the parents and their attorneys in an attempt to bring the parties together.
Mediators have different philosophies regarding reaching an agreement. At the parties’ request, some are willing to put forth a suggested settlement. Other mediators believe that’s not their role, it’s up to the parties to resolve their disagreements.
If the parties do come to an agreement on the overall terms, the next step is writing the agreement with the parties executing it.
If you and the other parent of your child have disagreements concerning support and other issues, contact our office at 760-722-7669 so we can discuss how we can help.
Why is it a good idea to hire an attorney to help me when dealing with my child support case?
Attorneys here at Fischer & Van Thiel are well aware of all the laws, procedures, forms, motions, deadlines and hearings that are involved in a child support case. You don’t want to learn about child support law and procedures while handling your own case and paying for the mistakes you make. There is too much at stake for a parent to go it alone in the court system. Depending on the age of the child and the income of the other parent, there could be tens of thousands of dollars at stake.
- If you didn’t have the necessary knowledge, tools and experience, would you try to make tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs to your home?
- It may be far more expensive and complicated to hire an attorney after the damage is done to try to unravel whatever problems were caused because a party was unrepresented.
You are not an attorney but the court will hold you to the same standard so you will be expected to know the law and court procedure.
- Attorneys “make a record” during the proceeding. If something was done incorrectly or improperly during a proceeding, the party that suffers as a result must raise an objection and make an argument why the judge should make a certain decision.
- An appeal is normally based on a narrow legal issue which needs to be raised at the hearing level. Without that objection and the argument being made at the hearing, there will probably be no basis for an appeal.
- An appeal is not a complete “do over” of a lower decision and an unrepresented party will probably not know what to object to or when.