Is Your California Child Support Case Worth the Fight?
Before you throw money at the child support case, read this article
You have a California child support case ahead of you. Is it worth the litigation?
In this article, we look at an issue that is sometimes simple, often contested and every once in a while very complicated - California child support cases. When does it make sense to contest child support and when should Family Court and the attorney fees that accompany it be avoided? We answers those questions here.
California child support cases generally fall into the following three categories:
- W-2 wage earner(s) without contested visitation issues;
- Self employed parent(s) with fluctuating incomes; and
- Contested visitation cases and timeshare disputes.
Let's go through each one.
The California child support case for the W-2 wage earners who agree on parenting time
This is the simplest of all child support cases.
If one or both parents are W2 employees (meaning a paycheck and taxes are taken from each paycheck) and they both agree on their respective time share with the child or children (for example 50/50, 70/30 or some other split of time), then child support should be resolved in about 15 minutes.
Since "guideline" child support is calculated by the use of a computer program (programs are either Dissomaster or X-Spouse, depending on the user), inputting this simple data 99 out of 100 times produces the correct child support number. You may wonder, "that's it? It's just those two factors?" No, there is a bit more involved like mortgage interest deductions that one or both parents pay, the out of pocket cost of health insurance for the children, child care costs, mandatory retirements deducted from pay (which very few employers do) and others but, for the most part, all of that data is very easily gathered and inputted.
These are the types of cases that should never see the inside of a Family Court. Unfortunately, these cases are also the bulk of contested cases and why an agency like the Department of Child Support Services exists in the State.
The California child support case for the self-employed income earner
Self employment income almost always causes friction between parents on child support cases. The parent who is self employed often claims he or she makes less than what the other parent alleges. Since income is a factor is child support, it's sometimes necessary to engage in litigation and "discovery" (formal requests for information) to determine what that self employment income may be. Forensic accountants are hired if the disagreement is a large one and the self employed parent makes a significant amount of money more than the other.
The California child support case with disputed parenting time with the children
Whether or not a parent or both are W-2 wage earners or self employed, a disagreement on the actual amount of time each spends with the child or children is the single most important factor in calculating child support. In fact, in many cases, a time share of a parent can make the issue of income matter very little to the ultimate child support amount.
For example, let's say there are two children and the father makes $100,000.00 per year. Let's also assume the mother doesn't have an income but the father claims she should be working and can earn up to $30,000.00 per year. Assume also that the father has a minimal time share with the children - for our hypothetical 5%. In such a situation, the mother's lack of income or even imputed (assumed) income at $30,000.00 per year makes very little difference to the ultimate child support amount. How is that possible?
That is where an experienced child support lawyer can help. We will sit down with you and show you different scenarios and the impact on child support before you ever even consider stepping in Court. Knowledge is more than power. Knowledge is a money saver.
Cases that involve parenting time disputes often result from a lack of a custody order, vague orders or parents who have decided between themselves to divert from Court orders. These are resolved in the following ways: (1) A hearing is held where both parents testify, produce visitation logs and witnesses who can attest to time share. Children can even testify in such cases, depending on the age of the child, or (2) The parents settle on a time share going forward and that time share being written in an agreement which the Court then approves.
I sometimes remind clients that only a dummy spends $8 on a $10 dispute. Think and plan before you spend. That is what an ethical family law attorney will help you do, before you waste time and money on child support litigation.
- B. Robert Farzad
Is litigating child support in your case worth it?
Which is best? Settlement? Litigation? That is something you will learn once you consult with us. We analyze every important aspect of your case to give you the best options.
Running into Family Court unprepared can lead to unintended results and even monetary sanctions against you if you take an unreasonable position. Our experienced child support attorneys will sit down with you, learn about your case and its facts and provide you with valuable insight into your case and the options you have before proceeding forward to obtain child support or defend a claim against you. Contact us today for an affordable strategy session.