California’s Family Courts always make decisions with the child’s “best interests in mind,” and these decisions often include child support. When determining whether you are legally responsible for paying child support, it is essential that you understand the type of custody that you have and the legal rights pertaining to your custody arrangement. In most cases, following a divorce, the children will reside with the parent who was awarded “sole physical custody.” This parent is designated as the “custodial” parent. Unless the non-custodial parent is a danger to the child or has a history of abuse, the non-custodial parent will be granted visitation rights.
When a custodial parent also has legal custody of the child, he or she should involve the non-custodial parent in the decision-making process—especially when making decisions regarding the child’s education and medical matters. However, the custodial parent is not required by California law to do so. In other words, the custodial parent who additionally was awarded sole legal custody of the child is free to make all decisions regarding the child without the input or approval of the other parent.
When divorced parents have joint custody of their child, the parents share both physical and legal custody equally (50/50). IN this case, each parent is a custodial parent. According to California Divorce Law, joint custody is not automatically granted in the custody part of a divorce case. However, many Family Court judges in California maintain that joint custody is in the child’s best interest. Although a Family Court may order joint custody, the courts desire that the parents are in agreement with a joint custody arrangement. This often increases the likelihood that the parents will avoid conflict, cooperate, and work together in making important decisions regarding their child.
California Child Support Laws
Child support is not optional in the State of California. No matter what an individual’s income may be, the child will need financial assistance. When parents elect to divorce, their child’s financial needs become an essential legal matter to address. The California legislature has drafted child support laws and guidelines to ensure children receive the monetary support the need. These statutes are used by Family Law Judges to determine the appropriate amount of child support payments.
California’s child support laws consider a range of factors when determining the amount of child support to be paid, such as:
- How many children do the parents have?
- A review of each parent’s income now and in the future.
- Child support obligations from a previous relationship.
- Medical insurance expenses.
- All other shared expenses.
In the State of California, the non-custodial parent is usually the only parent with a court-ordered child support obligation.
In answering the question, “Are you obligated to pay child support when you have joint custody?” The answer is, “it depends.”
California Child Support Obligations When Joint Custody is Awarded
Parents with joint custody of a child usually share equal physical custody. However, the State of California does not consider this when determining which parent should pay child support. By way of example only, if one of the child’s parents has fewer debts and earns considerably more money than the other parent, that parent may be required to pay the parent monthly child support payments, regardless of 50/50 shared custody. The child’s living, medical, and educational expenses will be considered in child support determinations. Again, the courts always based their decisions on “the best interests of the child.”
Child Support Modifications
While the court sets the permanent child support amount at the time of the divorce decree, the amount of child support obligation may change over time. A new job or a promotion with a higher salary, a job layoff, and a modification in child custody arrangements could result in child support modifications. The legal professionals at Dominion Law Group, LLP, can examine your current child support obligations. If warranted, our attorneys will petition the court on your behalf and fight for a modification of your monthly child support responsibility reflecting your new financial situation.
Contact Our Santa Clara Child Support Lawyers
If you are dealing with a child support dispute, you need legal representation as quickly as possible. For your initial consultation with one of our San Jose child support attorneys at the Dominion Law Group, LLP, simply contact our law firm at 408-288-5592, or contact us online through our website contact form. Our child support attorneys represent clients throughout San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and all other cities in or around the San Francisco Bay Area.