A Father’s Guide to Child Support
Child support refers to payments that a noncustodial parent must pay to the other parent if the parents are separated or divorced in order to help with the financial expenses incurred in raising a child. In many cases, the father is the payer since the mother is typically the primary caretaker and with whom the children have spent the bulk of their time, though roles have changed considerably in the past few decades.
Father’s rights are a hot topic, though California law does not favor one gender or disfavor one when it comes to custody or child support, though a bias in favor of women is alleged by many advocates for father’s rights during divorce. State law obligates both parents to support their children and promotes shared responsibility, though the children will have to have a primary residence where they go to school, engage in after-school, social and community activities and generally have a safe and nurturing routine. The noncustodial parent, who is often the father, has time sharing rights that might include visitation during the week, alternate weekends and some holidays and other events.
Also, child support payments are not tax deductible.
How is Child Support Determined?
If you are the father and the noncustodial parent, you will have to pay child support absent a showing that you are incapacitated or incapable of paying it though you will still be obligated to pay a minimum amount. Published guidelines dictate how much you will pay. Generally, the amount you will pay is based on the following:
- Your income
- The income of your spouse
- The number of children you have of this marriage
- The percentage of time the child spends with each of you
- Tax deductions
Child support is designed so that your child or children are able to maintain the same standard of living, which may be substantial if you are making a sizable income.
It makes no difference in most cases if you agreed to or were ordered to pay other expenses such as for music lessons, summer camp, sports teams or other community or extracurricular activities since these are considered discretionary despite whatever studies or arguments you can present to the contrary.
Can Child Support be Waived in California?
Child support cannot be waived, though the parties could agree to support that is less than what the
guidelines state. At any point, however, the custodial parent might be able to petition the court to have you pay arrearages without a showing of a material change in circumstances, which is the standard used for any other modification request. If you fail to pay the arrearages or any support, you do face civil and criminal penalties, including:
- Loss of driver’s license
- Loss of a professional license
- Seizure of your tax refunds
- Seizure of your passport
- Seizure of assets
- Community service
The burden of proof is on you to show that any alleged arrearages are incorrect or were already paid. Also, there is no requirement that the recipient spouse demonstrate that any of the support you pay is being used for the child’s expenses.
Departures From the Guidelines
There are exceptions whereby the court could depart from the support guidelines and either order that you pay more child support or less. For instance, a child with special needs or who has a medical condition that insurance does not totally cover may give the court a reason to increase your support payments. The court will also look at the custodial parent’s childcare costs incurred while that parent is working or attending school.
If you are trying to show that your child support should be lower than the guidelines, you must demonstrate that you are unemployed, injured, or have a condition or disability that makes it very
difficult for you to work or secure a decent paying job. Otherwise, the court will consider your job skills, education and the industry in which you work to see if you are capable of making more income and will force you to make the support payments found under the guidelines regardless of your pleas.
Modifications to a Child Support Order
You can request that a child support order be modified if you can show a substantial change in
circumstances. Generally, a material change should affect the welfare of the child in a way that the court feels would warrant a change in the child support order. This might include loss of employment or a serious injury or illness by either spouse or a condition or circumstance that constitutes an undue hardship. A modification might also be ordered if there is change in the amount of visitation time you spend with your child or if your travel expenses are affected because a parent now lives a considerable distance from the other.
Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum
If you are a father concerned about your rights in a divorce matter, whether it concerns child support or any other issue involving your divorce, having a resourceful and experienced divorce lawyer on your side can make a difference. The divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum have a proven record of success, ensuring that father’s rights are protected at all stages in a divorce or separation matter. Contact our offices today for a reasoned assessment of your divorce case.