How Is Child Support Handled In California?

In general, California law imposes a duty on the parents of a child to support them. This duty extends until the child reaches the age of majority (18 in California), and their graduation from high school, or age 19, whichever occurs first. Child support may also terminate as a matter of law if the minor child enters the armed forces or is emancipated. In certain circumstances, as in the case of an adult disabled child, child support can continue until the death of the parent or child.

Defenses to the obligation to pay child support include a challenge to paternity or maternity, termination of parental rights and adoption. As children are entitled to support based on their parent's circumstances and station in life, California has imposed a mandatory statewide guideline, utilized by the courts, to ensure proper child support awards. A lawyer can help you navigate these laws.

Determining "guideline" child support has many components, including the income of each parent or obligor, the number of children, the percentage of time each child spends in the custody of each parent, mandatory deductions, tax implications and certain hardships, as well as the needs of the child, including child care, out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, private school, tutoring, extracurricular activity expenses and many others. The courts have wide discretion to vary from the guideline support number.

Learn About Your Child Support Options

Because of the many variables that exist in this area of family law, you need an attorney who has the experience and expertise to guide you through the child support process. Computer programs for guideline child support often get it wrong. Although establishment of child support is the beginning of the process, enforcement is often the next hurdle.

At Ruben Law Firm, we will analyze the specific circumstances of your case and provide you with the advice and guidance you need during this difficult and confusing time. Call 415-399-6830 or email us to schedule an appointment. We work in San Francisco and throughout California.