Child Support Lawyers
Child Support Lawyers
Child Support | Kleeman Kremen Family Lawyers
Child support is frequently an issue in a divorce case, and is a routine issue in parentage cases. The attorneys at Kleeman Kremen advocate on behalf of our clients to obtain the most favorable child support determinations for our clients – both those seeking child support and those who pay child support.
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California Child Support Law
The State of California has a child support guideline that is unique among states. The California child support guideline includes the following principles:
- Parents are mutually responsible for the financial well-being of their children.
- A child’s standard of living should not drastically change between each household.
- Child support may appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.
- Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to the parent’s ability.
- It is presumed that a parent having primary physical responsibility for the children will contribute a significant portion of available financial resources for the support of the children.
How is Child Support Calculated in California?
The amount of child support owed is based on a complex algebraic formula set out in California Family Code 4053 – 4055. The formula accounts for the income of each parent from multiple sources, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, tax deductions for each parent, mandatory pension contributions, union dues and health insurance payments.
The formula is almost always calculated by one of several computer programs which determines the “net” income of each party available to pay child support, considers the parental timeshare and then determines the amount of child support owed usually by the higher earning parent.
Child care and health care costs not covered by insurance are usually paid equally between the parties, as a mandatory “add-on” to child support. Other discretionary add ons include for special educational expenses and travel for visitation.
There are very limited situations in which the court is permitted to deviate from the guideline formula in its award, including situations with a “high-net income” parent, and situations where the parties agree to certain below (or above) guideline awards. However, in all deviating circumstances, the court is required to first calculate the guideline amount, and then justify the deviation. (Family Code 4056, 4057)
Because the guideline is based on a determination of the “net” after-tax income of each parent – an approach unique among states – applying the guideline fairly and correctly creates a level of complexity in the calculation.
At Kleeman Kremen, we have litigated the appropriate child support amount in situations where the guideline is applied, and those where deviations from the guideline award are warranted.
What If My Income Fluctuates?
Child Support Modifications
Life changes, and often child support modifications are needed. In order to petition the court for a child support modification, a parent must prove that there has been a change in circumstance since the last official order unless the parties had previously stipulated to a below-guideline award.
A change in circumstance can include the following:
- Income of either parent has increased or decreased
- One parent has lost employment
- One parent has another child (from a different relationship)
- Time spent with one parent increases/decreases
- Change in the child’s needs
- Changes to any of the other factors in the child support formula (taxability of income sources and tax deductions, mandatory pension contributions, union dues, health insurance payments, etc)
If parents can agree to the child support modification, a stipulation can be drafted and submitted to the judge for approval. If an agreement cannot be reached, one of the parents must file a motion with the court.
Even if you and your spouse have verbally agreed to a change in child-support, it is vital that you get the agreement in writing and then signed not only by both parties but also the judge. If not, there can be disputes over what amount is payable, over child support arrears, and court actions for assignment of unpaid support against the income of the non paying parent. Even contempt actions can be brought, seeking to punish a non-paying parent for a violation of court orders.
Dena Kleeman and Ruth Kremen
Dena A. Kleeman and Ruth S. Kremen have the kind of experience that is crucial in the practice of family law.
As a certified family law specialist, Dena A. Kleeman is recognized by the State Bar of California as having the requisite education and experience to represent clients in the specialized field of family law. She received training and certification as a divorce mediator through an approved program of the National Academy of Family Mediators. Ms. Kleeman has practiced family law full-time since her graduation from Stanford Law School in 1983.
Ruth S. Kremen has been practicing full-time family law since 1993. She has a wide background in the practice of civil litigation, including family law litigation. Ms. Kremen graduated from Georgetown University Law School in 1982, clerked for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 1983, and entered private practice in 1984.