~ Child Support Information ~
How does the Court Calculate Child Support?
WHAT ARE DISSOMASTER TACTICS AND HOW ARE THEY USED?
Is Child Support Tax Deductible?
What happens if I owe past-due Child Support?
Statutes Relating to Child Support
The following statutes are only a few of the laws that directly affect child support. These statues are listed here for your review, so that you can understand the public policy of the State of California and to gain a better understanding of how the Court makes an award of child support. Additionally, as the laws are ever changing, it is strongly suggested that you verify that statutes found on this site are still current before making any decisions, legal or otherwise regarding your legal matter.
Family Code § 4053
In implementing the statewide uniform guideline, the courts shall adhere to the following principles:
(a) A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life.
(b) Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children.
(c) The guideline takes into account each parent’s actual income and level of responsibility for the children.
(d) Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability.
(e) The guideline seeks to place the interests of children as the state’s top priority.
(f) Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.
(g) Child support orders in cases in which both parents have high levels of responsibility for the children should reflect the increased costs of raising the children in two homes and should minimize significant disparities in the children’s living standards in the two homes.
(h) The financial needs of the children should be met through private financial resources as much as possible.
(i) It is presumed that a parent having primary physical responsibility for the children contributes a significant portion of available resources for the support of the children.
(j) The guideline seeks to encourage fair and efficient settlements of conflicts between parents and seeks to minimize the need for litigation.
(k) The guideline is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.
(l) Child support orders must ensure that children actually receive fair, timely, and sufficient support reflecting the state’s high standard of living and high costs of raising children compared to other states.
Family Code § 4055
(a) The statewide uniform guideline for determining child support orders is as follows: CS = K[HN - (H)(TN)].
(b) (1)The components of the formula are as follows:
(A) CS = child support amount.
(B) K = amount of both parents’ income to be allocated for child support as set forth in paragraph (3).
(C) HN = high earner’s net monthly disposable income.
(D) H = approximate percentage of time that the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent. In cases in which parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children, H equals the average of the approximate percentages of time the high earner parent spends with each child.
(E) TN = total net monthly disposable income of both parties.
(2) To compute net disposable income, see Section 4059.
(3) K (amount of both parents’ income allocated for child support) equals one plus H (if H is less than or equal to 50 percent) or two minus H (if H is greater than 50 percent) times the following fraction:
|Total Net Disposable Income Per Month||K|
|$ 0 - 800||0.20 + TN/16,000|
|$ 801 - 6,666||0.25|
|$6,667 - 10,000||0.10 + 1,000/TN|
|Over $10,000||0.12 + 800/TN|
For example, if H equals 20 percent and the total monthly net disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (1 + 0.20) × 0.25, or 0.30. If H equals 80 percent and the total monthly net disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (2 -- 0.80) × 0.25, or 0.30.
(4) For more than one child, multiply CS by:
|Number of Children||Multiple|
(5) If the amount calculated under the formula results in a positive number, the higher earner shall pay that amount to the lower earner. If the amount calculated under the formula results in a negative number, the lower earner shall pay the absolute value of that amount to the higher earner.
(6) In any default proceeding where proof is by affidavit pursuant to Section 2336, or in any proceeding for child support in which a party fails to appear after being duly noticed, H shall be set at zero in the formula if the noncustodial parent is the higher earner or at 100 if the custodial parent is the higher earner, where there is no evidence presented demonstrating the percentage of time that the noncustodial parent has primary physical responsibility for the children. H shall not be set as described above if the moving party in a default proceeding is the noncustodial parent or if the party who fails to appear after being duly noticed is the custodial parent. A statement by the party who is not in default as to the percentage of time that the noncustodial parent has primary physical responsibility for the children shall be deemed sufficient evidence.
(7) In all cases in which the net disposable income per month of the obligor is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the obligor is entitled to a low-income adjustment. The presumption may be rebutted by evidence showing that the application of the low-income adjustment would be unjust and inappropriate in the particular case. In determining whether the presumption is rebutted, the court shall consider the principles provided in Section 4053, and the impact of the contemplated adjustment on the respective net incomes of the obligor and the obligee. The low-income adjustment shall reduce the child support amount otherwise determined under this section by an amount that is no greater than the amount calculated by multiplying the child support amount otherwise determined under this section by a fraction, the numerator of which is 1,000 minus the obligor’s net disposable income per month, and the denominator of which is 1,000.
(8) Unless the court orders otherwise, the order for child support shall allocate the support amount so that the amount of support for the youngest child is the amount of support for one child, and the amount for the next youngest child is the difference between that amount and the amount for two children, with similar allocations for additional children. However, this paragraph does not apply to cases in which there are different time-sharing arrangements for different children or where the court determines that the allocation would be inappropriate in the particular case.
(c) If a court uses a computer to calculate the child support order, the computer program shall not automatically default affirmatively or negatively on whether a low-income adjustment is to be applied. If the low-income adjustment is applied, the computer program shall not provide the amount of the low-income adjustment. Instead, the computer program shall ask the user whether or not to apply the low-income adjustment, and if answered affirmatively, the computer program shall provide the range of the adjustment permitted by paragraph (7) of subdivision (b).
The Department of Child Support Services
According to their website, the Department of Child Support Services, “works with parents - custodial and noncustodial - and guardians to ensure children and families receive court-ordered financial and medical support. Child support services are available to the general public through a network of 52 county and regional child support agencies”. If you are having difficulty obtaining Court ordered child support, DCSS can help. If DCSS is garnishing your wages for a support obligation, we can help.
In reality, DCSS is like a pit bull. If you are owed child support and have a valid Court Order, DCSS can and will take over the collection of your case, especially if you are receiving government support of some kind. There is a lengthy package that must be completed to get the DCSS ball rolling, setting forth the amounts that you are owed per the Court Order and the amounts that you have paid, if any. This document must be completed carefully and can be quite daunting, given that it seems like pages and pages and pages of information, including a detailed accounting, signed under penalty of perjury. A simple mistake made in the accounting can prove costly down the road.
Once a case has been assigned to DCSS, the original Court no longer has jurisdiction and cannot make any further Court Orders that pertain, in any way, to child support. All child support issues must be handled by a Title IV-D Court (DCSS Court) as long as DCSS has jurisdiction.
DCSS has powerful enforcement tools to try and make parents pay their child support obligations. First, all past due child support amounts earn interest at a rate of 10% per year, which means that if an amount is not paid for seven (7) years, it will double in value; thus $1.00 owed will become $2.00 owed! Next, DCSS has the legal authority under California Family Code § 17520 to suspend a driver’s license, professional license (license to practice medicine, law, accounting) and to even refuse to issue or renew a passport. Specifically, the Department of State, under the provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which is codified at 22 CFR 51.70(a) (8) will refuse to issue a passport if the child support arrearage amount exceeds $2,500.00. In short, DCSS has powerful tools that can be used for or against you in a Court of Law.
The bad news is that once DCSS is on the case, a highly inefficient government agency is involved. It is difficult and at times impossible to contact anyone at DCSS to have even simple questions answered. Worse, if DCSS gets the accounting information incorrect or wrongfully tries to suspend your license, you will most likely have to file legal documents and go to Court to stop them or fix the problem. In our experience DCSS is a best case, worst case scenario. In all cases, however, we have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the troubled waters of DCSS.
If my Ex Files for Bankruptcy will that affect Child Support?
Typically, if a party files for bankruptcy, it will have no effect on their ongoing child support obligation. There are, however, two exceptions.
1) Where, for some reason, the child support debt (i.e. a domestic support obligation) has been assigned to a third-party, whether voluntarily, or because of some legal requirement. See 11 United States Code § 523 (a)(5)(B) – Exceptions to Discharge;
2) Where the child support debt, despite being specifically designated as child support, is in fact not for child support. In these types of situations, a Judge can look to the true nature of the debt, rather than at the label that the parties placed upon the obligation. See In Re Marriage of Clements (1982) 134 Cal.App.737.
In fact, the Court in Clements specifically stated that “a discharge in bankruptcy shall release a bankrupt from all provable debts except debts due ‘to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, for alimony to, maintenance for, or support of such spouse or child ....’  An order in a decree of dissolution that a spouse pay certain community debts may be either in the nature of alimony or support, not dischargeable in bankruptcy, or in the nature of a property settlement, which is dischargeable in bankruptcy under present law.” Emphasis added.
As such, even though there is an automatic stay on the collection of debts following the filing of a Bankruptcy petition, when it comes to child or support, the automatic stay will have no legal effect as child support debts are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy, except in certain specific cases.
When it comes to specific questions regarding Bankruptcy and how it may affect your case and your life, we strongly suppest that you contact a licensed attorney who specializes in Bankruptcy law, which is not our particular forte.
If you would like assistance with your divorce or legal matter, you can always call the Law Offices of Werno & Associates to discuss how we can help you. Our phone number is (714) 542-4466 and consultations are always free.