Our firm represents parents during actions related to the establishment or enforcement of child support orders.
California places a legal duty on parents, through child support laws, to cover the financial aspects related to your child’s care. We provide counsel to parents in all matters of child support ranging from the negotiation of a stipulated agreement or advocating a position to the court. Our child support attorneys use their knowledge of agency procedures and applicable child support laws in Northern California to help the firm’s clients pursue the financial resources owed to their children.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Child support covers the monetary support required for meeting a child’s basic needs. The funds are meant to pay for costs related to food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and other necessities. An order for child support can cover previously unpaid amounts, including interest.
The Steps for Pursuing a Child Support Case
California’s Child Support Service is the agency responsible for administering child support cases within the state. Parents or other legal guardians who want to open a case must generally follow the agency’s procedures and guidelines. We help our clients navigate this system and provide guidance when cases require further legal action (e.g., making arrangements that stray from the guidelines or enforcing a child support order).
Opening a Child Support Case
The first step for initiating a child support case is opening an application with the Child Support Service. The application will ask for detailed personal information necessary to process the application in addition to a variety of other legal notices, some related to the participant’s responsibility to protect confidential information.
The application forms generally address the following topics:
- A paternity/maternity questionnaire
- Family violence (if applicable)
- Health insurance information
- Statements on income and expenses
- Statements about past payments of child support
After completing the application, the next step will be to file a legal complaint to the parent from whom you are seeking child support. The complaint acts as formal notice of you naming the parent in the child support case and obligates that parent’s response within 30 days to avoid a default judgment.
If the current location of the parent is unknown, then additional steps may be necessary to properly serve them. Having information such as the parent’s date of birth, social security number, last known address, or other data will be most helpful in successfully locating the parent.
Determining Legal Parentage
If a person contests their status as the child’s parent, additional steps may be necessary to establish legal parentage. A DNA test is the most official method for establishing legal parentage.
However, California has presumptions that a person is a child’s parent if married to the child’s natural mother at the time of birth or if the child was born within 300 days of the marriage ending. Additionally, a person’s consent to being named on the birth certification may also establish a presumption of legal parentage for child support purposes.
Obtaining a Stipulated Agreement or Child Support Order
After opening a child support case, the parents will have a couple of options for determining financial obligations. One is to reach a stipulated agreement that you file with the court and that states child support amounts from each parent. If parents are unable to enter a stipulated agreement, then the court will review the relevant information and enter an enforceable child support order.
How Child Support Law Calculates a Parent’s Obligations
A parent has a legal duty to provide financial support for their child until they finish high school, are 19 years of age, or if the parent-child relationship ends (e.g., through marriage, emancipation, etc.). The court will rely on the information from a parent’s income and expense declaration, along with state-authorized software, to decide the appropriate support amount. The declaration will look at all sources of income (e.g., wages, benefits, investments, other assets, etc.) minus expenses like taxes, retirement contributions, and other child/spousal support.
Modifying or Terminating a Child Support Order
The amount of child support that a parent owes could change through a future modification or termination order. Such modification may occur due to unemployment, changes in income, or other uncommon events such as military duty.
Enforcing an Order for Child Support
Failing to pay child support obligations can come with interest penalties and civil contempt charges to deter nonpayment. In addition, parents and courts have several tools for enforcing a child support order against an owing parent. Some of these recourse options include:
- Filing bank and property liens
- Diverting tax refunds
- Suspending state licenses (i.e., driving, or other professional and occupational licenses)
Get Help for Your Child Support Claim Today
Our attorneys at GAJP, P.C. leverage their 25 years of combined experience to bring the firm’s clients throughout Northern California with real, effective results with child custody law matters. With offices in Roseville and San Francisco, we always welcome the opportunity to meet with prospective clients, discuss their needs, and see how our firm can assist.
Schedule a consultation with one of our child support lawyers today.