What is child support?

Child Support is


When a couple lives together there is usually no need for a court to order the parents to pay child support since the couple generally shares income and expenses. However, when a couple ceases living together (for example, due to divorce or separation) then it will sometimes become necessary for a court to order one or both of the parents to pay child support. The gender of the parent does not matter in child support cases – men and women are held equally responsible for a child’s financial needs. The percentage of time each party spends with the child (“timeshare”) will also become factor in determining the amount of child support. The parent who retains primary custody of the child is called the “custodial party” and the other party is called the “non-custodial party.”

What is child support modification?

Child support modification is

  • a change
  • to a judicial order
  • requiring a parent to provide ongoing payments
  • to assist with his or her child’s living and medical expenses.

While the custodial parent, noncustodial parent, or primary caregiver can make the request, a substantial change of circumstances will be the primary theory for a child support modification in Los Angeles.

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Child Support Questions and Answers

When you hear the term child support, how would you describe it? Generally, when a noncustodial parent offers financial help to the custodial parent — the parent primarily raising a child — this form of monetary assistance can be considered child support. Child support payments can help the custodial parent with the costs of raising a child. These payments cover basic living necessities — food, shelter, and clothing — and many other expenses associated with raising a child, such as medical care and education.

The law requires a noncustodial parent to pay a fair share of income for child support. If a child support order is in place, the state may compel the noncustodial parent to pay for child support. Since each state handles child support payments differently, discover what you need to know about how Los Angeles County handles child support.

Who has to pay child support?

Child custody can be a perplexing concept, but the information presented here can help you understand child support better. Custody concerns the parent, parents, or other people who act as a child’s legal guardians. In some custody arrangements, one parent has custody of a child and provides for that child’s physical and financial needs. To help with the costs of raising that child, the noncustodial parent becomes legally obligated to make child support payments to the custodial parent.

Only people determined to be a child’s parent have to pay child support. When you’re trying to show your claim as a parent to a child, you’re establishing paternity, and you can prove paternity in several ways.

Determine first whether the child’s parents remain unmarried. If so, one parent may sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. If both child’s parents are married, one can presume the child is the offspring of the mother’s husband. The husband, however, can challenge that idea and ask for a paternity test. The mother can ask for tests as well, but, in California, both the presumed father and the mother have only two years after the child’s birth to file a motion to ask for paternity testing.

What happens if both parents aren’t married? One of the parents can ask for a paternity test to prove parentage. If the father disputes paternity, the mother would need to file a paternity case to settle the issue of parentage before she would be able to get a child support order against the father.

Who doesn’t have to pay support?

California law requires parents to pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever event comes later. Given that law, a parent may have to pay child support until the child turns 19 if the child remains unmarried and still attends high school. Generally speaking, however, child support obligations end when the child comes of age or marries, whichever event happens first.

Stepparents do not have to pay child support for a new spouse’s natural children in most cases. Keep in mind, however, that a parent’s remarriage may be considered a significant financial change that affects the parent’s child support award or obligation. For example, if a parent marries a wealthy spouse who owns a home, that parent’s living expenses may diminish and impact how much the parent should pay or receive in child support.

Can you avoid paying child support?

A child support order is a judicial order, i.e. a directive from a judge. It is not okay to disobey, or fail to abide by, a judicial order, regardless of your feeling about its fairness. While you cannot refuse to make support payments, you may have the option of seeking an adjustment in the amount of money you’re required to provide to your child’s mother or father in the future. Further, you may be able to work with your local government in an attempt to make an amends for delinquent payments.

How does California calculate child support?

Each state has its own formula for calculating child support based on the parent’s income, the child’s needs, and other factors. In California, the child support formula includes the following criteria:

  • Income and earnings of each parent
  • Amount of time each parent spends taking care of the child. California uses a timeshare model that requires you to estimate the percentage of time you spend with the child. The state has a helpful timeshare visitation chart that can help parents calculate the child support they will pay or receive.
  • Financial needs of the child
  • Amount of money needed to sustain the child’s current standard of living

Note that these factors are only guidelines for judges to consider. The court has the final authority to decide the proper amount of child support at its discretion.