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San Diego Child Support Lawyers


Child support is a highly contested, sometimes difficult issue to litigate in the San Diego Family Law Courts.  While the State of California has issued legislation to try and make child support calculations easier and more fair by creating a “guideline” formula, parties to divorce, legal separation and paternity cases still often have difficulty agreeing to the terms of a child support order.  Why?  The “guideline” child support formula requires the input of relevant factors to determine the amount of child support to be paid, and often times those input factors are difficult to determine.

If you are engaged in a child support litigation case, contact our San Diego attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your options.  During our representation, we will prepare you for the amount of child support you may likely pay or receive as we utilize the Dissomaster® program that the court uses to calculate child support.  We also understand how to present child support matters for the court’s consideration and how to achieve the best results.

Why is child support based on timeshare?

The theory behind why a parent’s actual time is used as a major factor in determining the amount of child support is that the more a parent has custody of the child, the less child support they should pay to the other parent because they spend more money for the benefit of the child when the child is in their physical care.

Why does a parent’s income matter for child support?

The law states that a child should be supported to the level of financial stature of both parents.  This means that if one parent makes a lot of money, and the other doesn’t, but the child lives primarily with the parent that does not make a lot of money, the child should benefit from higher-earning parent’s standard of living.

Can the court make me pay child support for an adult child?

Once a child reaches the age of majority, which in California for child support purposes is the age of 18 (or until the age of 19 if the child is still living at home and attending high school), there is no further obligation to pay child support.  Once the child graduates, if between the ages of 18 and 19 years old, the child support obligation ends. (See California Family Code 3901.)

There is one important exception to the rule above.  Pursuant to Cal. Family Code Section 3910, if a child is an adult but is “incapacitated from earning a living,” which means that he or she cannot support themselves financially without the help of the parents, the family court has the authority to order the parents to provide for the support of that child.  The parents have an “equal” obligation under this section to support the child to the extent of their ability.

Can the family court order “security” for the future payment of child support?

Yes.  California Family Code Section 4012 states that upon a showing of good cause, the court can order a parent to provide “reasonable security” for the payment of support.  Typically this includes pre-payment of child support for a one year period of time and such funds are placed in a blocked trust account.

How do I go about getting child support?

Child support motions are commonly filed in the family courts, as well as through the Family Support Division in San Diego County.  Parents have the option to open a case with the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) to seek child support and most often, those parties do not have an attorney represent them.  The problem with this system is that DCSS often takes a long time to begin a case and does not work proactively.  We often have clients contact our office to complain about how long it takes to get child support through DCSS.  Although a child support case is open with DCSS, we can still help and we can expedite the process through court action.  While DCSS is somewhat “connected” to the Family Support Division Departments, they are two separate entities and we often circumvent DCSS and file motions to move the case along in the courts. The other option is to file a divorce, legal separation, paternity or domestic violence case in the Family Court Division, along with a form called a Request for Order to request the payment of child support.

How is the child support “guideline” calculated in California?

Family Code 4055 provides the guideline formula, which is CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)].  Generally speaking, this guideline formula has been placed into a computer program that considers various factors such as income, net income, timeshare, etc.  More specifically, the actual computer program takes all of the following information into consideration:

  • Each parent’s gross income
  • One parent’s “ability to earn” if they are underemployed if it is shown that they have an ability and opportunity to work
  • Each party’s tax filing status
  • The number of minor children
  • The amount of time each parent spends physically caring for the children, as a fixed percentage for the “noncustodial” parent
  • Healthcare insurance deductions
  • Mandatory union dues
  • Deductible interest and property taxes
  • A new spouse’s income (more on this below)

Is my new spouse’s income included in the child support Guideline calculation?

Yes and no.  A new spouse’s income is input in the mandatory formula calculations; however, many family law litigants overestimate the actual effect the input of this number has on the child support figure.  Almost always, it makes no difference.  Also, in some circumstances it may have the opposite effect as one might think.  For example, many times a parent that pays child support worries that their new spouse’s income might increase child support; however, it often has the opposite effect of lowering the child support figure (if at all).

How is self-employment income calculated for child support?

Self-employed persons must disclose all their income, and more, for a child support hearing.  According to the requirements set forth on the Income and Expense Declaration, Family Code and California Rules of Court, self-employed persons must provide a Schedule C and profit and loss statements, as well as a balance sheet for their business.  Many times the income reported on a business tax return is not the figure used for child support purposes, as many times income is “added back” because they are not actual, out of pocket business expenses (such as depreciation).  The Court will determine a reasonable figure to use for the self-employed person if the income is variable.

Who is responsible for daycare and unreimbursed medical expenses?

Nearly always, both parties are equally responsible for all daycare costs necessary for either party (during his or her custody time) to work or obtain job training. Also, both parties will be equally responsible for all unreimbursed healthcare expenses, including orthodontics, counseling, co-pays, prescriptions, and so forth.

What is “Family Support”?

Family support is a lump sum payment from one parent/spouse to the other parent/spouse for both child and spousal support.  There is no set amount for child support and no set amount for spousal support, they are simply lumped into one amount.  Family support is often employed as a tax strategy in divorce cases.  Here’s why: Under federal tax law, child support payments are not deductible to the payor and they are not income to the recipient.  However, spousal support payments are deductible to the payor and they are income to the recipient.  The Internal Revenue Code allows for child support and spousal support to be lumped together for family support, which is entirely tax deductible to the person making the payment and entirely taxable to the recipient.  Usually the amount of family support is more than if child support and spousal support were ordered separately, to accommodate for the fact that the recipient will pay tax on the child support portion.

What do I do if the other parent is behind in child support payments and is in arrears?

Call us immediately!  Or attorneys are experts at helping parents collect on past-due child support payments.  Typically we initiate a motion to determine child support arrears and file other appropriate motions to secure payment for you.  Often we handle these child support collection cases on a “contingency” fee, which means that we don’t get paid unless you get paid.

What is the State Disbursement Unit?

The SDU is a California entity that was created within recent years that is in charge of collecting all moneys that are paid via garnishment.