How is the amount of child support determined?
California law when it comes to child support is very clear and very rigid. If you ask your divorce lawyer how much you will have to pay, he will simply plug in your income figures and timeshare percentage into a computer program called “Dissomaster” and will be able to tell you with almost 100% certainty what the judge will order if you go to court. Of course, this is assuming that all of the information provided is accurate.
What if I can’t afford to pay the amount ordered?
“Without exception, every time one of my clients sees for the first time what he or she will be paying in child support, according to the guideline, they are shocked and in disbelief,” says Encinitas child support lawyer, John Griffith. “The Court literally will not consider an argument from the payer of child support that he or she “cannot afford to pay.”
There are very limited circumstances when the family court judge might consider a deviation from the guideline amount for a child support order. However, deviation from guideline child support is most definitely the exception and not the rule.
The bottom line is that you have to pay the court ordered amount of child support. If you don’t then you will continue to dig yourself into a hole that you may never be able to dig yourself out of. Child support arrears accrue regardless of an inability to pay—and they never go away.
If I share 50/50 custody with the other parent do I still have to pay child support?
It is a common misconception that if parents share equal 50/50 custody of their kids then there would be no child support order. This is not the case. Although parents can agree that neither should pay child support, if it came down to a family court judge making an order on a contested case, the higher wage earner in a 50/50 custody situation would most likely be ordered to pay child support to the other parent. “The idea is that the children should be living at the same socioeconomic level at both of their parents’ houses,” says Griffith. If one parent is wealthy and the other is not, then the natural inclination of the children may be to gravitate toward the more well off parent. This sort of unintended bias is not what is in the best interests of the children.
The laws regarding child support in California are many and are complex. Every case is different and every problem in every case has a solution. The child support and divorce attorneys at Griffith, Young & Lass can help you find a solution to your child support problem. We will develop a plan for success that works within the confines of the law and, assuming you follow our direction; we will help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel.