Efficient and Compassionate Advocacy for Parents Throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Are you dealing with child support disputes in Pleasanton? Whether you are the paying parent or the supported parent, Ham Family Law, P.C. can help. We have been advocating for parents for 14 years, and we balance compassionate guidance with assertive representation. We will help you navigate your case based on your unique needs, and we will do our best to negotiate your interests and goals efficiently. We are also prepared to take your case to court if necessary, though we believe in helping parents resolve their cases outside of the emotionally draining litigation process. Whatever your child support needs, Ham Family Law, P.C. will develop a legal strategy that best meets your interests.
Schedule an initial consultation with the firm online to learn more.
Under California law, both legal parents are responsible for financially supporting their child. In custody arrangements when the child has a custodial parent, the noncustodial parent will be expected to make child support payments to the custodial parent, who should be using those funds in the care of the child.
Child support payments typically last until the child turns 18 years old (19 years old if they are still in high school or cannot support themselves, such as due to a disability). Court-ordered support may also terminate when the child marries or registers a domestic partnership, enlists in the military, becomes emancipated, or passes away.
California’s Child Support Guideline
To calculate the amount of child support a parent must pay, California implements a child support guideline for calculations. The four guiding principles are:
- The parents’ principal obligation is to support their minor child according to each parent's situation and station in life.
- Both parents are responsible for supporting their child.
- The guideline amount is presumed to be correct; only under certain circumstances should the child support amount fall below the guideline amount.
- Child support orders must ensure that the child actually receives fair, timely, and sufficient support that reflects California’s high standard of living and high costs of raising children compared to other states.
The calculation will involve an evaluation of the following information:
- each parent’s gross income;
- how much time the child spends with each parent;
- how many children the parents have together;
- mandatory union dues;
- health insurance expenses;
- either parent’s childcare costs; and
- applications of income tax and mandatory payroll deductions.
Depending on both parents’ situations and the custody agreement, the court may also order parents to share the costs of traveling for visitation between parents and the child’s educational needs.
Note that a parent’s income in the context of child support refers to each parent’s income after state and federal taxes and deductions, such as their salary, bonuses, commissions, overtime, and other non-wage income if it regularly occurs.
While California requires the court to order child support based on the guideline above, there are a few exceptions when parents can make their own child support agreement instead. In general, parents can establish their own “non-guideline” child support amount if they meet the following criteria:
- they know of the guideline child support amount;
- they know their child support rights fully;
- they are not receiving public assistance, nor have they applied for public assistance;
- they agree to an amount of support that will meet the needs of the child;
- they are not pressured or forced to agree to this child support amount;
- they believe that this child support amount meets the best interests of the child; and
- a judge approves the proposed amount of child support payments.
Parents who do not wish to have to go before a judge to decide a child support amount may instead agree to the guideline amount and sign a stipulation that they agree.
Falling Behind on Payments
If a parent fails to meet their child support payments on time or at all, they must pay 10% interest on the balance due in addition to the original amount they owe. In more serious situations, the court may deem the parent failing to pay as being in “contempt of court,” which is a criminal offense that could lead to jail time and other consequences like license suspension.
To learn more about how a court may enforce payments or how parents may request the modification of their child support arrangement, visit our page on Enforcement & Modification.
Child support is a serious matter for both paying and supported parents. If you have questions about negotiating your initial child support agreement or seek clarification on your child support rights, reach out to Ham Family Law, P.C. today. We have over a decade of experience guiding parents and will lend a compassionate hand as we champion your interests in negotiation and even litigation.
Schedule an initial consultation with our firm online to get started. Let’s get those child support payments on track and in your favor.
Caroline is an amazing lawyer. She was well prepared for my case and was even complimented by the Judge on her preparation. Her professionalism and compassionate demeanor helped my family through a very emotional child surname change case.