California has strict guidelines in place to help determine how much child support each parent is required to pay in the event of a divorce. These guidelines are based on the parties’ incomes, as well as the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Although these agreements can be modified, courts will only do so when one of the parties can show that there has been a material change in circumstances, which can be extremely difficult. If you have questions about a current or pending child support order, it is important to contact a Pleasanton child support attorney who is well-versed in state law and can help explain your rights and responsibilities.
Calculating Child Support
If parents are unable to come to a child support agreement that is acceptable to the court, then a judge will use a specific formula to calculate child support payments. The formula takes a number of factors into account, including:
- How much each party earns;
- How much income each party receives in addition to wages;
- How many children the parties have together;
- How much time each parent spends with their children;
- Health insurance expenses;
- Whether either party must make mandatory retirement contributions; and
- Whether the child receives support from other relationships.
Based on an assessment of these factors, the court will calculate how much support the child would have received if the family had remained intact. This amount will then be divided to account for each parent’s separate income and the amount of time spent with the child. The order may also require the parents to share the cost of health care expenses, educational needs, child care, and transportation costs incurred as a result of visitation. Generally, both parents will only be required to pay child support if they share physical custody. If one parent has sole physical custody of a child, then the noncustodial parent will usually be the only one required to make child support payments.
Modifying Child Support
Although child support awards are final, they can be modified in certain situations. However, before a judge will modify an order, one of the parties must provide evidence of a substantial change in circumstances, such as:
- The income of one or both parents has changed;
- One parent has become disabled;
- One of the parties has lost his or her job;
- One parent has been incarcerated;
- One party has had another child;
- There have been significant changes in how much time the child spends with a parent; or
- The child’s needs have changed and he or she requires more or less financial support for health care, education, or child care.
If parents can agree on a new child support schedule, then they can present it to the judge for approval. Otherwise, the parties must request a formal modification in court.
Call Today to Speak With an Experienced Pleasanton Child Support Attorney
If your ex-spouse is refusing to pay child support, you believe that your order should be modified, or you have another child support-related question, please contact the Law Office of James P. White at (925) 271-0999 to set up a one-on-one consultation with a dedicated family law attorney who can evaluate your case.