According to child and spousal support laws, a person has a duty to provide for his or her children as well as a duty to provide for a spouse if that person is married, and during and following the dissolution of the marriage. California courts will issue child and spousal support orders in many situations and may require that a person continues to make regular child support and spousal support payments for extended periods, affecting the rights of all those involved for many years to come.
Courts look at a wide range of factors in deciding whether support payments are required and in setting payment amounts. It is important for all the parties involved – including the person who will be making the payments as well as the person who will be receiving the support payments – to make sure their rights and interests are well represented before the court. At the Law Offices of Andy Cook, a San Diego Child Support Lawyer can help people through the process of reaching a determination of spousal and child support payments while ensuring that the rights and interests of the parties and those of their children are preserved and protected now and into the future.
How Child Support Orders Are Set in California
Child support may be ordered wherever a parent is not supporting his or her minor child (or in some cases, an incapacitated adult child), whether the parent is or has been married to the person taking care of the child or not, or if the child is being taken care of by a third party, including a governmental entity. If one parent is taking care of a child without adequate support from the other parent, the first parent may bring a suit for child support in the California courts. A California county may also bring suit against a parent as well if the county is providing support to child. A parent may also be required to make temporary child support payments while a divorce or separation case is pending.
When a parent, third party, or the county brings suit against a parent for child support, the court can order a trial against that parent, at which point it might order that the parent be required to make regular child support payments to the person taking care of the child, and this support may be required until the child reaches the age of 18 or until some other event.
In setting the amount and duration of child support payments, the courts will adhere to, among others, the following principles:
- A parent’s primary obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances
- Both parents are responsible for supporting the children
- Each parent’s income and time spent with the children will be taken into consideration
- The court’s top priority is the interests of the children
- Children should share in the standard of living of both parents, which means child support may improve the standard of living of the child’s household
- Child support orders should reflect the high cost of living and raising children in California
How Spousal Support Orders Are Set in California
A person may request spousal support from another as part of a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, or as part of a domestic violence restraining order. The court will award a final order of spousal support as part of a divorce or separation judgment, which is referred to as permanent or long-term spousal support. A court may also order temporary spousal support to be paid by one spouse to another while a divorce or separation case is ongoing, which will be required to paid for the duration of the case.
In calculating temporary spousal support, courts will often use a formula based on the incomes of the respective spouses, and these formulas can vary by local guidelines. In reaching a final spousal support order, however, the judge is required by California law to incorporate, among others, the following factors:
- The ability of a spouse to maintain the standard of living established through the marriage, which looks at the spouse’s earning capacity based on the market conditions and whether the spouse worked during the marriage
- Whether and how much the supported party contributed to the supporting party’s education and career training
- The supporting party’s earning capacity
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The obligations and assets of each party
- The duration of the marriage
- The demands of raising children on each party
- The age and health of the parties
- Documented history of domestic violence between the parties
- The ability of the parties to become self-supporting
- Any other factors the court deems just and equitable
Seek an Experience San Diego Child Support Lawyer
The courts have wide latitude in weighing the above factors and in setting the amount and duration of both child support and spousal support payments. The court-ordered payments can last for many years, and modification of such orders can be highly difficult, so it is in your best interest to have your interests and rights well represented when the orders are initially set. The San Diego Child Support Lawyer at the Law Offices of Andy Cook possesses the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to provide you with the representation you need in this critical area. For advice and representation in child and spousal support matters, contactthe Law Offices of Andy Cook.