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Is Child Support Mandatory with Minor Children?

When a family goes through a divorce, parents have a legal duty to ensure that the needs of their children continue to be met. To this end, child support payments exist to ensure that a divorce does not severely limit the resources available for a child’s care. While parents often have strong opinions about what is in the best interest of their family, the terms of child support are ultimately set and decided upon by the court. In California, detailed guidelines exist for determining support payments and the state calculates payment amounts through the use of formulas. Once all the variables are accounted for, a judge typically orders child support to be paid following the guideline amount.

Factors which can influence the terms of child support often include:

  • Total income of both parents
  • The expendable income of each parent
  • The projected cost of the child’s needs
  • The amount of time each parent will have with a child
  • Support payment obligations from other relationships

Every divorce will contain unique factors and it is understandable that the guidelines for child support will not be best in every situation. It is possible to request a change in the amount of child support that a court determines to be in order. Preference is not an adequate motive for a change in support and spouses must provide a good reason as to why a judge should approve the request. However, even in situations where payments are set to $0, the legal obligation for child support is never waived. In these situations, a parent can revisit the issue and request that the original guideline amounts are set in place.

How Long Do Child Support Payments Last?

Child support payments will typically last for as long as a child is a minor, however, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, support can be lengthened if a child has special needs, is living at home while in high school (up to the age of 19), or both parents agree that an extension is in the child’s best interest. The period of support can also be reduced in situations where a child becomes self-sufficient such as when they join the military, get married, or become legally emancipated. To modify an order once it is in place, a parent must be able to show that a substantial change in circumstance has occurred.

Attorneys Helping Families with Child Custody Disputes

The process of determining child support is one that all divorcing parents must go through. While guidelines exist to help determine the nature of child support payments, you may have to fight for what is truly in the best interests of your children and your family. If you are currently experiencing a dispute over the terms of child support, contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC and get the help you need. Our Southern California divorce lawyers can bring more than two centuries of collective legal experience to your case.

Call (855) 939-9111 and discuss your case with an attorney in a free phone consultation.

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