CHILD SUPPORT ATTORNEY IN ORANGE COUNTY, CA
The family court system of Orange County is responsible for resolving many types of legal disputes that often arise within families. Divorce cases, child custody disputes, and child support determinations are the most commonly addressed cases in the Orange County family court system. If you are preparing to divorce your co-parent, or if you are an unmarried parent bracing for a child custody determination, the court will also resolve child support as part of your larger case.
Child support is a contentious issue in the family court system, and it can be challenging to determine the best approach to this type of situation. First, you need to be sure that your child’s needs are adequately addressed and have the financial support they need to cover basic living expenses. If you expect to pay, it’s natural to want a fair and reasonable determination that fits your income and lifestyle. If you are expecting to receive child support, it’s understandable to want to maximize the support you receive.
Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, has years of experience guiding Orange County clients through complex child support cases. We understand that some parents may feel inherently disempowered by the child support determination process or that the child custody determination process can feel unfair or one-sided. Whatever your case entails, we will provide individually tailored legal representation through the entirety of your case proceedings, helping you reach a result that is both reasonable and suitable for the needs and interests of your child.
Whether a support order is required, a modification is needed, or arrearages need to be calculated and enforced, the attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski are experts on such matters. We have substantial experience with California’s complex child support guidelines whether you are potentially paying or receiving child support.
Why Do I Need an Orange County Child Support Lawyer?
It’s understandable to wonder why you need to hire a lawyer for a child support case in California. While it is technically possible to navigate a child support dispute without legal representation, it is much easier to approach this problematic family court case with the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Your Orange County child support attorney can help you in several ways. First, they will assist you in gathering all the financial documentation you will need to provide to the court. If your child support determination is part of a larger divorce and custody case, you will need to complete an extensive financial disclosure process to not only resolve child support but also property division under California’s community property law. Hiring the right attorney can make all your family court proceedings much easier to approach. You’ll have assistance gathering the materials you must produce for the court, and you will also be more likely to secure more favorable outcomes. While no attorney can guarantee any particular outcome in any case, reliable legal counsel is an invaluable asset no matter what your child support case entails.
Necessary Considerations in Child Support Cases
Child support is not an issue that can be resolved privately between parents. The Orange County family court system has a legal obligation to preserve the best interests of children. When parents file divorce petitions, child custody disputes, or paternity cases in the family court, child support is sure to come into play. A family court judge has the final say in any child support case, regardless of whether the child’s parents are divorcing or unmarried.
The first step a judge must take in determining a fair and reasonable support arrangement for a child is assessing the total amount of support the child should receive from both their parents. First, the judge will review the financial records of the parents and calculate the cost of living in Orange County to arrive at a total support obligation shared by the parents. Then, this amount is divided in half to determine each parent’s respective support obligation.
One parent will pay child support to the other, and the determining factor that decides which parent pays child support and which parent receives it comes down to custody rights. When one parent has a more significant share of physical custody than the other, the family court presumes that this parent fulfills their financial support obligation by addressing the child’s day-to-day needs and living expenses. Therefore, the other, noncustodial parent will owe child support to the custodial parent in this situation.
It is important to note that if a judge denies custody or visitation to one parent or if a parent has their parental rights involuntarily terminated, this will not end that parent’s support obligation. The only ways in which child support can terminate include:
- The death of the paying parent or the child.
- The child reaching the age of 18 or reaching the age at which support will end as dictated by the support agreement.
- The child is adopted by a stepparent willing to assume financial responsibility for the child.
- The paying parent later assumes full custody of the child. For example, this may occur if the custodial parent dies or becomes unfit to retain their custody rights.
It’s common for child support determinations to change over time as the needs and circumstances of the child and their parents evolve. Several factors, including job loss, medical emergencies, development of disabilities, and more, can all lead to changes to a child support order.
Child Support for High-Earning Parents
California is home to many celebrities, executives, and business professionals across multiple industries, and some parents in California qualify as “extraordinarily” high earners. California family courts typically use an algorithm to calculate appropriate child support, but judges may need to perform more extensive calculations to determine the best support terms when a child has parents who earn high incomes. Typically, judges assert that a child has the right to enjoy the wealthy lifestyle of their high-earning parent. In these cases, child support is likely to be substantially more than the baseline child support the child would need for their basic everyday living expenses.
Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, has helped all types of clients in Orange County through complex family law cases. We understand that some parents have unique financial situations, and it is understandable for any parent to want the fairest possible child support terms. We have represented parents at all income levels and do everything in our power to ensure that child support determinations are fair, balanced, and in alignment with the best interests of the child affected by a determination.
How Do I Change a Child Support Order?
The Orange County family court system and the many other family courts throughout the US acknowledge that life can pose unpredictable challenges to parents with custody and support orders. When unexpected problems arise that influence a standing family court order, the modification process allows any party beholden to a family court order to request reasonable changes that reflect these variables. Unlike an appeal that seeks to overturn a prior ruling, a modification is a simplified process that seeks reasonable and necessary changes to a standing family court order.
Some of the most commonly cited reasons for seeking modification of child support orders in Orange County, CA, include:
- Job loss. If you are required to pay child support but lose your job due to forces beyond your control, you can petition the family court for a reduced support obligation that more reasonably reflects your new financial situation.
- Medical emergencies. If you develop an illness or disability or suffer a catastrophic injury that prevents you from working, you can petition for a modification to your child support obligation in light of this change.
- Changes in the needs of the child. If you are a custodial parent and your child develops a disability or medical condition that increases their financial support needs, you can request an increase to your child support payments.
- Contempt. In the event a parent has violated a lawful family court order in any way, the other parent has the right to not only file contempt proceedings and seek appropriate penalization of the other parent’s behavior but also the right to petition for modification that more accurately reflects the other parent’s actions.
The main prerequisite for seeking a modification to your child support order is that the reason behind the sought change must be something beyond your control. For example, a parent who is legally obligated to pay child support each month cannot quit their job and then file a modification for reduced support. Likewise, if they were fired because of poor performance or disciplinary issues, this would also not justify a support modification in most cases.
When a parent files a petition for modification of a child support order, the other parent has the right to contest the modification request. They may offer contradictory evidence against the petitioner or assert that the sought change does not truly suit the child’s best interests. Modification hearings typically do not take long to resolve, but hotly contested modifications can result in extensive proceedings and multiple courtroom sessions.
If a judge determines that a requested modification is fair, necessary, and suits the best interests of the children it will affect, the judge may grant the petition with immediate effect.
FAQs About Child Support Law in Orange County, CA
Child support “orders” are how the court sets the amount of support that must be paid by one party to the other party to help in the cost of supporting the child. Without a proper order from the court, there is no obligation for the payment of any child support. Conversely, with a proper order in place, if a parent fails to pay their support obligation, wages may be garnished, and the offending parent may be jailed. It should be noted that the earliest date a court can issue child support is to begin is the date the request for support is filed with the court.
Both parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their children. If you do not believe you are a child’s father, it is imperative that you challenge parentage at the earliest possible date. Failure to act promptly may lead to you having to pay for a child that is not yours. The support attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, will assist you in demonstrating to the court that you are not the child’s father and should not have to pay support.
In California, child support is primarily based on a statewide guideline. In other words, numbers are entered into a computer program and a support award is determined. The main factors in determining support are the number of children, the parties’ incomes available for support, the parties’ respective timeshare with the child, the tax-filing status, and their tax-deductible expenses. While the court may deviate from the computer calculation under select circumstances, generally, whatever amount the program calculated will be ordered by the court.
In support actions, the parties must file income and expense declarations, along with supporting documents. These declarations are signed under oath and perjury on them may be severely punished. The support lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, are aware of the common lies and omissions that frequently take place on Income and Expense Declarations. They will take the necessary steps, such as propounding discovery, subpoenaing bank records, credit statements, loan applications, employee records, etc., in order to accurately assess a deceiving parties’ actual and true income.
In California, Child Support is largely determined by a statewide algorithm. Specific factors are entered into a computer program, and the program determines the amount of Child Support to be paid. Factors considered include the parties’ respective income available for support, the number of children, the timeshare with the children, the income of any new spouse, mortgage obligation, property tax obligations and other required expenses, a child’s special needs, the cost of health insurance, etc. Once guideline support is determined, a court may deviate from this amount in only a few limited circumstances
Unless the parties’ respective incomes and expenses are comparable, yes, there will be child support owed by one of the parties to the other. As discussed above, timeshare is only one factor considered in the determination of Child Support. Our Child Support lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, are skilled in determining child support and ensuring that you and your child’s best interests are protected.
Failure to pay court-ordered Child Support is both a state and federal offense. If a parent is not paying their court-ordered Child Support, there are a number of options available to the payee to enforce the support order. These options include wage garnishment, property liens, revocation of the payor’s driver’s license and passport, and in the most egregious cases, a jail sentence. If you are owed Child Support, the attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can take the necessary steps to help you enforce your court-ordered Child Support. Conversely, if you owe outstanding support, our support attorneys can help you get back on your feet by seeking modification of Child Support so that it is reflective of your financial situation, by negotiating a payment plan or an offer in compromise. We can also help you regain your driving privileges and defend yourself if your liberty is in danger.
As a parent, you are obligated to economically contribute to your child. This means that in most situations, one parent will be ordered by the court to financially assist the other parent in this obligation. And as discussed, a Child Support order can be enforced even with incarceration. Once set, a Child Support order may only be modified by a subsequent Court Order. If you are unable to meet the demands of your current Child Support order, perhaps the order is not reflective of your income and ability to pay. Additionally, perhaps the other parent is not sufficiently contributing in light of their respective economic situation.
Your child support obligation will not go away by itself. When you stop paying your support, the amount owed accrues with 10% interest, there is no statute of limitations limiting the owed party’s ability to collect, and the debt is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Our support attorneys are experts in assisting the payor parent in managing their child support and petitioning the court to lower the payments.
The only way to modify a Child Support order is by having a new order entered in its place. This new order may be stipulated to by the parties or ordered by the court following a hearing. If you believe that you are paying too much support, or are receiving too little, the Child Support attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you get the modification you seek.
In California, Child Support is largely determined by a statewide algorithm. Specific factors are entered into a computer program, and the program determines the amount of Child Support to be paid. Factors considered include the parties’ respective income available for support, the number of children, the timeshare with the children, the income of any new spouse, mortgage obligation, property tax obligations and other required expenses, a child’s special needs, the cost of health insurance, etc. Once guideline support is determined, a court may deviate from this amount in a few limited circumstances. Perhaps your situation fits within one of these circumstances. Contact the Child Support lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, to determine whether you meet the requirements to modify your Child Support Order. Keep in mind that until you obtain a modification, your obligation continues unabated, and any reduction in child support may only be made retroactive to the date the petition for modification is filed with the court. In other words, while you wait to modify your order, you may be overpaying Child Support, and that is money that cannot be recovered.
It is never advisable to stop paying court-ordered Child Support. If you believe that the order should be modified, you should petition the court for a modification or seek a stipulation with the other parent to be filed with the court. If you are in a situation where you stopped paying because the child stopped living with the payee parent, it may be possible to have the outstanding support discharged. The Child-Support lawyers at Quinn& Dworakowski, LLP, can assist you in defending an action by a parent seeking payment of owed Child-Support.
Hopefully, these frequently asked questions and our provided answers will help clarify any misconceptions you may have about how child support orders work in Orange County, CA. It’s natural to have lots of questions about how a child support case may unfold, and every parent faces unique circumstances they may not know how to handle on their own.
Working with an experienced Orange County child support attorney is the best way to approach these complex cases. The right attorney can provide clarity and peace of mind in difficult child support cases, helping parents reach the best possible outcomes and preserve their child’s interests.
What to Expect in a Divorce With Kids
Most of the child support cases that unfold in the Orange County family court system are components of divorce proceedings. When married parents decide to dissolve their marriage, the court has a legal responsibility to preserve their children’s best interests and ensure they have the financial support they legally deserve from each of their parents.
Every divorce case is unique, and child custody and child support will be more contested in some cases than in others. For example, when one parent has a very demanding work schedule, they may not be able to manage everyday childcare responsibilities, and the other parent would be a more suitable candidate as the custodial parent. It’s also possible for a parent to qualify as unfit in the eyes of the family court judge, meaning the other parent would likely assume sole physical and legal custody of their child.
When you choose Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, to represent you in an Orange County divorce involving kids, we can provide comprehensive legal counsel for every aspect of your case. Throughout our years of operation, we have successfully represented many married parents in complicated divorces, custody disputes, and child support determinations. We can also provide legal counsel to unmarried parents facing custody and support determinations in Orange County.
We handle every case by taking time to learn as much as possible about our clients, helping them determine the best possible options for resolving their cases as efficiently as possible. Whether you expect to pay or receive child support, we can guide you through your case and help you reach a result that serves your child’s needs and interests. Our team can also assist with support modifications. For example, if you need to request reasonable changes to your child support terms or if you need to contest unreasonable modifications sought by your co-parent, we can guide you through your modification proceedings.
It’s best to work quickly when you need legal representation for a difficult child support case in Orange County. The sooner you secure legal counsel, the sooner your Orange County child support lawyer can begin working on your case. Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, has the experience and skill necessary to handle the most challenging child support cases in Orange County. If you are bracing for a divorce, child custody dispute, or any other family court case likely to involve a child support determination, we can help. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your situation with an experienced Orange County child support attorney.