Sacramento Child Support Lawyer

Our children are often our entire world. All we ever want is what is best for them. Keeping your children’s best interests in mind during a divorce can be tricky. Emotions are running high, and anger might be present between you and your spouse. Add in a financial component, and everything gets even more complicated. 

Our Sacramento child support lawyers understand that working through a divorce with minor children is not an easy process. Thankfully, it is a process our attorneys are very familiar with. At Pakpour Banks LLP, our attorneys can manage your child support case, including helping you estimate the amount, walking you through the court process, modifying the child support order if circumstances change, and enforcing child support orders. Our Sacramento family lawyers are skilled at providing legal representation to protect your interests and those of your children. 

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Sacramento Child Support Attorney?

The concept of paying or receiving money to support your child is easy to wrap your mind around. Yet calculating and arguing for child support is more complex. California has specific guidelines and laws related to setting child support. The process involves many legal nuances, difficult calculations, and burdensome paperwork. Without an attorney, you could end up paying too much or receiving too little child support or face consequences you were unaware of.

An experienced child support attorney in Sacramento understands how to navigate the complexities of child support. They can review all your documents and information and strategize on how to potentially reduce or increase child support payments, limit tax implications, and manage disputes that arise. In addition, if your co-parent fails to make payments, your attorney can help enforce the child support order.

And if you face significant life changes that may impact the appropriate amount of child support, your attorney can help modify the existing order to reflect the change. Having an attorney can spare you many headaches of completing legal paperwork and fighting for what is best for you and your child.

What Is Child Support?

Child support in California is a monthly payment one parent is required to pay the other parent to help cover a child’s living expenses and way of life. By law, parents must share the financial responsibility of raising their children. 

After a couple divorces, the assets and finances they once had for one household are now split into two and are not always equal. The purpose of child support is to ensure the child’s expenses are covered and minimize any differences in the child’s standard of living between the two households.   

Every child support agreement is different. Some of the main expenses child support is intended to cover include:

  • Shelter or housing,
  • Food,
  • Clothing,
  • Education, and
  • Transportation.

Child support is typically paid until the child reaches 18 and becomes an adult. But child support payments may last until the child is 19 if they are still attending high school full time and living at home. 

Other circumstances that may alter how long payments last include the child joining the military, termination of parental rights, emancipation, death of a parent or child, and a child having special needs. 

How Is Child Support Calculated?

California’s Statewide Uniform Guidelines use a complicated formula to determine the amount of child support payments. The formula is: CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)], which broken down is:

  • CS—the total child support amount,
  • K—the amount of both parents’ income that will be used for child support,
  • HN—the high-earning parent’s net monthly disposable income,
  • H%—the percentage of time the high-earning parent has with the child, and
  • TN—the total net monthly disposable income of both parents.

If this is all Greek to you, don’t worry. Simply put, the formula is intended to reach a fair payment to support the child’s living expenses and well-being. The main factors that go into the formula are the incomes of both parents and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. 

Income

Courts consider many sources of income when calculating child support payments. Some sources of income may include:

  • Wages;
  • Self-employment income; 
  • Tips, commissions, and bonuses;
  • Spousal support;
  • Disability benefits;
  • Social security income and pensions; and 
  • Unemployment benefits.

The court will also deduct expenses from the income amount to determine the net disposable income. Examples of expenses the court will subtract include:

  • Taxes,
  • Health insurance premiums,
  • Mandatory retirement contributions,
  • Child or spousal support payments, and 
  • Living expenses for children from another relationship.

Both parents must submit documentation of these sources of income and expenses. The court factors the final numbers into the child support equation. The guideline calculation often leads to the higher earning parent paying child support to the other parent.

The court can also examine other factors that may impact the parents’ income or expenses. Other factors can include the number of children, special needs of the child, educational expenses, medical insurance costs, and childcare expenses. The formula also takes into account the state’s high cost of living and ensures that the amounts are fair and equal in relation to those costs.  

Time with the Child

The court will also consider the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The percentage will depend on the type of visitation schedule involved. Calculating the exact number of days spent with a child can be difficult, but getting the most accurate number possible is important. There are online tools to help you calculate your timeshare, or you can add them up on your own. 

Generally, the parent who has primary physical custody is in greater need of support because they are contributing a significant amount of their resources to support the child.

People also mistakenly believe that if the parents share equal time with the child, they won’t need child support. While this may happen in some cases, a parent may still be responsible for child support with joint custody. Child support is calculated in the way that best maintains the child’s standard of living across the two separate households.

If you have all the necessary income and tax documentation, you can use the California Child Support Services online calculator to estimate payments. If you have more complex finances and circumstances, consult a child support attorney to help calculate the payments and discover ways to increase or decrease them for you and your child’s benefit.

Modification of Child Support Orders

You can request a child support order modification if either parent experiences a substantial change in circumstances. Examples of changes in circumstances may include: 

  • A parent’s income has increased or decreased,
  • A change in the visitation schedule,
  • A change in the size of the family,
  • A change in the child’s needs or expenses (including education or childcare),
  • A parent becomes disabled,
  • A parent is sent on active military duty, 
  • A parent goes to prison or jail, or 
  • A change in available health insurance.

To request a modification, the parent must provide evidence that the circumstances have changed and articulate why the modification is warranted. A parent must file a Request for Modification and supporting Income and Expense Declaration. 

Enforcing Child Support Orders

A parent ordered to pay child support must comply with the order. California takes payment of child support very seriously. If a parent fails to make payments, they may face serious legal and financial consequences, including:

  • Suspension of driver’s license,
  • Suspension of passport,
  • Revocation of professional licenses,
  • Liens placed on property,
  • Wages garnished,
  • Negative credit reporting, and 
  • Interception of tax refunds.

Courts can also charge interest on child support payments in arrears. Interest can accumulate at 10% per year on the principal amount of unpaid child support. And if the child support goes unpaid for over 30 days, the non-complying parent can be penalized. The penalty can be 6% of the delinquent payment for each month it is unpaid and up to 72% of the unpaid balance due.

In severe cases where a parent repeatedly or wilfully refuses to pay, the court can also find the parent in contempt of court, which may result in fines and short-term incarceration.

To help enforce an order, you can work with California Child Support Services or consult a skilled child support attorney.

Talk to an Experienced Child Support Attorney in Sacramento Today

Pakpour Banks LLP understands how much your child means to you and that you want to do what is best for them. Our experienced Sacramento child support attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of child support, keeping your child’s best interests in mind. From reviewing documentation and estimating potential child support payments to enforcing or modifying existing orders, Pakpour Banks is here to help. 

Attorney Brian Pakpour is a Certified Family Law Specialist who has been representing clients in family law matters since 2013. Brian is dedicated to helping heal families. He ensures his clients’ voices are heard and their interests are protected. 

Attorney Keith Banks is also a Certified Family Law Specialist. He has served as an Administrative Hearing Officer, a probate clerk, and a family law associate, giving him a strong understanding of the ins and outs of family law. By having in-depth knowledge of how the courts operate, he can more effectively advocate for his clients. 

Brian and Keith each started their own law firms and, in 2019, merged to make a unified practice focused on family law. Since merging, the firm has handled hundreds of child support cases. Contact Pakpour Banks today, and let us help you with your child support case.