Is Your California Child Support Case Worth the Litigation?

Before you throw money at the child support case, read this article

Is Child Support Litigation Worth the Time and Money?

Yes, child support litigation is worth the time and financial investment if the facts and the law are on your side, and the return on that investment will significantly affect child support in your favor.

In this article, we examine an issue that can be simple, often contested, and occasionally very complicated - California child support cases. When does it make sense to contest and litigate child support, and when should Family Court and the associated attorney's fees be avoided?

For a detailed understanding of child support in California, check out our guide on California child support laws.

Categories of California Child Support Cases

California child support cases generally fall into the following three categories:

  1. W-2 wage earner(s) without contested visitation issues
  2. Self-employed parent(s) with fluctuating incomes
  3. 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 W-2 employees (meaning a paycheck and taxes are taken from each paycheck) and they both agree on their respective timeshare with the child or children (for example, 50/50 custody schedule, 70/30, or some other split of time), then child support should be resolved in about 15 minutes.

Since "guideline" child support is calculated using a computer program, inputting this simple data usually produces the correct child support number.

Additional factors, such as mortgage interest deductions, out-of-pocket health insurance costs for the children, child care costs, and mandatory retirements deducted from pay, are also considered but are typically straightforward to gather and input.

These types of cases should never see the inside of a Family Court. Unfortunately, these cases are also the bulk of contested cases, so agencies like the Department of Child Support Services exist in the State.

The California Child Support Case for the Self-Employed Income Earner

Self-employment income or income by a business owner almost always causes friction between parents in child support cases.

The self-employed parent often claims to make less than the other parent alleges. Since income is a factor in child support, engaging in litigation and "discovery" (formal requests for information) is sometimes necessary to determine self-employment or business income.

Forensic accountants may be hired if the disagreement is substantial and the self-employed parent or the business owner makes significantly more money than the other.

Child support cases involving extraordinarily high income earners can get extremely complex.

The California Child Support Case with Disputed Parenting Time

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.

Sometimes, a parent's significantly greater timeshare can make that parent's income almost irrelevant to the ultimate child support amount.

Example Scenario

For example, let's say there are two children, and the father makes $100,000 per year. The mother has no income, but the father claims she should be working and can earn up to $30,000 annually - this is called imputing income. If the father has a minimal timeshare with the children (e.g., 5%), the mother's lack of income or even an imputed income of $30,000 annually makes very little difference to the ultimate child support amount.

This is where an experienced child support lawyer can help. Before you consider stepping into court, we will sit down with you and show you different scenarios and their impact on child support. Knowledge is not just power; it is a money saver.

Resolving Parenting Time Disputes

Parenting time disputes often result from a lack of a custody order, vague orders, or parents deciding to deviate from court orders. These are resolved in the following ways:

  1. A hearing where both parents testify, produce visitation logs and have witnesses who can attest to timeshare. Depending on their age, children can even testify in such cases.
  2. Parents settle on a timeshare going forward, which is then written in an agreement and approved by the court.

Is Litigating Child Support in Your Case Worth It?

Which is best? Settlement or litigation? This 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 family law attorneys will sit down with you, learn about your case and its facts, and provide valuable insight into your options before proceeding forward to obtain child support or defend a claim against you.

Contact us today for an affordable strategy session.

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