When Does Child Support Start in California?

When Does Child Support Start in California?

If you are considering filing for divorce, or are in the midst of divorce proceedings, an important question often asked by one or both spouses is, “When does child support start in California?” Here is the answer – pursuant to California law, child support begins when a parent formally seeks it by opening a case. There are a number of types of cases that allow for child support orders, including:

  • Dissolution of Marriage (i.e. Divorce);
  • Dissolution of Domestic Partnership;
  • Petition to Establish Parental Relationship;
  • Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children;
  • Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order; and
  • Legal Separation

Along with opening a case, a parent needs to also file a formal request for child support. In most instances, a parent will need to fill out Judicial Council form FL-300, also known as a “Request for Order.”

 

Request for Order – Info You Need to Know

When drafting a Request for Order, it needs to concisely state what is being requested from the judge. Do not make the same mistake as many other people who forget that the Request for order is a formal request sent to the judge. It is not a forum to complain about the other parent or write about problems that are not relevant to the issue of child support.

When it comes to deciding an appropriate amount for child support, the judge needs the following information:

  • What is being requested (guideline or non-guideline child support, mandatory add-on expenses, and/or discretionary add-on expenses);
  • Whether this is an initial child support order, or a request to modify the current child support order;
  • Timeshare or the actual current custodial schedule;
  • Income information;
  • If there is a preference to how child support is paid (through garnishing the other parent’s wages, an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), by check, or some other method);
  • Whether or not there are any child support arrears;
  • If health insurance is available through employment;
  • Whether there is a preference as to which parent claims the child as a dependent for tax purposes;
  • If add-on expenses are being requested, the types and amounts of those expenses, along with proof; and
  • If there are special circumstances that might allow a judge to deviate from guideline support.

 

Income and Expense Declarations

It is vital to properly complete the paperwork in requesting child support, especially with regards to an Income and Expense Declaration. Failing to do so will cause delays and a possible denial of the parent’s request for support. It also prevents the court from accurately calculating guideline child support. This may result in an unfairly high or low amount of child support, neither of which benefits the child.

Many people ignore the fact that an Income and Expense Declaration is filed under penalty of perjury. This is an important document, or pleading, that judges rely on heavily in awarding child support. Mistakes, omissions, and flat-out lies will have a serious impact on child support.

 

Some of the most common obvious issues with Income and Expense Declarations are as follows:

  • Forgetting to provide two months’ worth of pay stubs or Schedule C documents;
  • Omitting overtime, bonus, commission, or other income above base salary or base hourly rates;
  • Listing expenses that exceed income; and
  • Failing to complete every section.

Think of an Income and Expense Declaration as a picture of your financial situation. It needs to be accurate, easy to understand, and clear. Giving the judge a blurry picture will prevent him or her from issuing a correct and fair child support order.

When you file the Request for Order with the court clerk, you will be scheduled for a hearing date. The Request for Order and Income and Expense Declaration, along with a blank Responsive Declaration and blank Income and Expense Declaration, must be served on the other parent a minimum of 16 court days before the hearing. The method of service will vary, depending on the situation, but the deadline is universal.

 

Responding to the Request for Child Support

The other parent has up until nine court days before the scheduled hearing to respond to the request for child support and provide a copy of his or her Income and Expense Declaration. It is important to respond to a motion for child support in order to give the judge the opportunity to hear both sides of the story and respond to the comments made by the other parent. The judge needs to know the following information from the responding party:

  • Whether or not there is agreement with what is being requested (guideline or non-guideline child support, mandatory add-on expenses, and/or discretionary add-on expenses);
  • If there is no agreement, what the actual disputes are;
  • Timeshare or the actual current custodial schedule;
  • Income information;
  • If there is a preference to how child support is paid;
  • Whether or not there are any child support arrears;
  • If health insurance is available through employment;
  • Whether there is a preference as to which parent claims the child as a dependent for tax purposes;
  • If add-on expenses are being requested, whether or not the other parent agrees with the accounting of the types and amounts of those expenses, along with proof; and
  • If there are special circumstances that might allow a judge to deviate from guideline support.

 

Hearing to Decide Child Support

Once the relevant documents have been filed, a judge will order a hearing to make a decision on child support. During the hearing, the judge will review each parent’s documentation and listen to their respective testimony. After that, the judge will typically calculate the amount of child support based on a variety of factors, including the type of custody arrangement, amount of income generated by one or both parents, and so forth.

 

Date Child Support Goes Into Effect

It is important to note that child support will initially be ordered on the date of your hearing, presuming both you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse have filed the necessary papers. Though, the paying parent may be surprised to learn that the support order can actually start earlier than the date of the hearing, if the judge decides to order “retroactive support.”

 

Have Questions About Child Support Laws in California? Castro Law Offices is Here to Help

If you have questions related to child support in California, Castro Law Offices is ready and able to provide guidance and sound legal counsel. Castro Law Offices is a premier California law firm focusing in child support issues, divorce, child custody, and all other issues concerning domestic relations. Castro Law Offices is based in Novato, California, but is ready and able to provide legal services and advice to clients in and around Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera, and Napa County and Sonoma County. Contact Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential consultation.

 

 

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