Navigating issues of child support can be difficult and exhausting. Ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the child or children is the first and foremost goal, but achieving this can be complicated by competing interests and disputes. To ease the burden on all parties involved, many families opt to involve a Napa child support attorney. Seeking professional assistance can help to alleviate the stress of navigating child support issues.
At Wine Country Family Law, P.C., we employ our years of experience in child support and family law to achieve results for our clients. Above all, we prioritize approaching issues of child support with care and compassion. Family matters are rarely clear and straightforward, but they need not be overwhelming. Consider contacting an experienced Napa child support attorney at 707-669-0841 to learn more about your options today.
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Children Have the Right to Support
California Law necessitates that each and every parent is responsible for the financial needs of their child. Specifically, Section 3587 of the California Family Code states that this responsibility continues until the child turns 18, or 19 if the child is unmarried and still attending high school full time. The court is not responsible for enforcing this responsibility until a court order has been established.
Child support proceedings can result from a variety of situations and California law accounts for an array of different familial circumstances. It is possible for either parent to make a child support order as part of one of the following type of cases:
- Legal separation, divorce, or annulment
- For unmarried parents: a petition to establish parental relationship
- A domestic violence restraining order
- A petition for custody and support of minor children
After a parent files for child support, Napa courts will apply a statewide formula to determine the amount of child support to be paid. Parents have the opportunity to negotiate terms of child support on their own terms, but if they are unable to reach an agreement regarding the monetary amount of child support, then the judge will apply the formula.
While Napa child support attorneys can provide more detailed assessments of child support amounts, the baseline calculation depends on the following factors, pursuant to California Family Code Section 4053, including:
- Parents income
- Number of children that the parents have together
- Time-share of the children
- Tax filing status of each parent
- Support of children from other relationships
- Expenses including health insurance, union dues, and retirement contributions
- Day-care, educational, and other expenses
Calculating child support is a give-and-take, requiring careful negotiation and creative strategizing to fully optimize the outcome of a case. It is also important to note that judges’ decision-making will vary from case-to-case. Regardless, the formula set forth in the California Family Code will serve as a benchmark for such orders.
How Does Paternity Factor Into Child Support?
Child support and paternity oftentimes go hand-in-hand. Establishing paternity is a legal process that the court utilizes in order to determine the father of a child or children. If parents are married when a child is born, there is usually no question about parentage. The law assumes that the married persons are the child’s legal parents, so parentage is automatically established in most cases. For unmarried parents, parentage needs to be established legally. Until the court confirms paternity, the child’s assumed father does not have any legal child support responsibilities.
Either parent can initiate the process of determining paternity or, alternatively, the court can begin the process unilaterally. In California, paternity can be established at any time after the child’s birth by signing a voluntary declaration of parentage, where both parents must voluntarily sign in front of an authorized witness. Paternity can also be established through genetic testing.
What We Do
As Napa child support attorneys, we boast a great deal of experience in negotiating the terms of child support agreements for our clients. Our services extend beyond that, however, and we address all issues under the scope of child support and family law. Some of the services that we provide our clients include:
- Creating and filing parenting agreements
- Negotiate child support payments
- Assist with child support implementation
- Complete and review court forms
- Modify support orders
- Establish parental relationship
Our office offers comprehensive legal assistance across the Napa, St. Helena, American Canyon, and Calistoga areas. We strive to offer services that fit your needs. In doing so, we are able to provide the most extensive and holistic legal counsel in the area.
How Can an Attorney Help with the Child Support Process?
Seeking assistance from a Napa child support attorney can be highly valuable, as experienced lawyers are better able to navigate the process quickly and efficiently. If you are beginning the process of child support an attorney can help draft relevant documents and negotiate the terms of your case. If you have an existing child support order and wish to modify it, an attorney can assist with filing a modification request and negotiating new terms.
Regardless of the circumstance, seeking legal assistance from a child support attorney can possibly help reduce the stress of filing documents, help a parent adhere to California legal requirements, and assist in negotiations with a spouse or other parent. In many situations, having an attorney to advocate for your rights in a child support case helps reduce tension by keeping the disputes at a distance, between our attorney and the other parent.. A Napa child support attorney can represent you as an objective third party with little emotional stake in the case, positioning the attorneys as a better negotiator and litigator than if you were to go it alone.
About Our Firm
As a child support attorney, Napa County-based Lindsay Torgerson, and her firm can help. Whether you are the parent who is paying or will be paying support, or you are the parent receiving or in need of child support, Wine Country Family Law, P.C. offers unique experience.
Not just a lawyer for child support, Napa attorney Lindsay Torgerson is the firm owner, parent, divorcee, and adult child of divorce. Lindsay worked for the Department of Child Support Services for years prior to establishing her family law firm. Our team uses Lindsay’s insight and experience with “DCSS” to help guide you in your child support matters.
Our Napa child support lawyers offer our clients invaluable legal experience. During your initial consultation of up to one hour in our Napa child support office (or by phone or video conference), we can discuss how we can help you with:
- Establishing a Child Support Order
- Modifying a Child Support Order
- Child Support Wage Assignments
- Child Support Liens
- Child Support Order Evaluation (running calculations to estimate support)
- Family Support Orders
Child Support FAQs
Can I Make Changes to My Child Support Order?
Yes, it is possible to make changes to your child support order as long as you obtain court approval first. A modification of an existing child support order can be requested at any time, by any parent. To successfully modify a child support order, the parent must prove that there has been a significant change in personal or financial circumstances that warrants the modification, such as:
- Change of income due to job loss or disability, for instance
- Difference in the amount of time that the child spends with the parent or a change in the child custody arrangement
- Incarceration or another extenuating circumstance
When requesting a change of your child support order, you will be asked to provide financial information and other supporting documents to prove that the modification is necessary. In California, modifications are typically not granted unless the order would change the existing order by a minimum value of 20% or $50.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Determine Child Support Payments?
While you are not legally required to have an attorney when negotiating child support payments, hiring legal counsel can help immensely. Divorce often becomes complicated when children are involved in the case, and negotiations can quickly become contentious. Your attorney will serve as a trusted advocate and neutral third-party, ensuring that your interests and goals are represented at every step.
Moreover, court proceedings are complex, requiring detailed knowledge of California law and the administrative systems that govern these proceedings. Family law attorneys have experience navigating these matters and will ensure that all deadlines are met and that all paperwork is completed according to the rules and regulations of the court.
Working with an attorney who is well-versed in matters related to child support can ensure that your case is handled with care, compassion, and respect. For many people, seeking legal assistance is essential to avoiding the common pitfalls that arise and optimizing their outcome. Ultimately, hiring legal counsel can be integral to resolving your case quickly and favorably.
Can Child Support Be Waived or Terminated in California?
Under California law, both parents are required to provide financial support to their children. For this reason, child support cannot be waived. If both parents reach a mutually agreement that child support is no longer necessary, the arrangement can be terminated. Moreover, a child support agreement can also be terminated if the child:
- Gets married
- Becomes legally emancipated
- Joins the military
- Passes away
In these cases, the child support obligation will cease. In all other situations, the arrangement will persist until the child reaches the age of 18 (or 19, if the child is not married and still attending high school).
What Parent Pays for Health Insurance After a California Divorce?
While it is generally well-understood that both parents are responsible for financially supporting their child, it can be difficult to know how expenses are split between parents. The parent that pays for health insurance after a California divorce varies based on the unique circumstances of the case. In some situations, healthcare costs will be included in the child support arrangement. In other cases, the parent with the higher quality insurance will be required to provide coverage to their child. Each situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis by the family law court.
How Is Child Support in California Modified if There Is a Change of Circumstances?
In some situations, there may be a change of circumstances that warrants a modification of an existing child support arrangement. To request this modification, a petition can be filed with the appropriate California Court. To successfully modify your child support arrangement, a parent must provide proof of the following:
- Income and expenses
- Medical insurance
- Disability status
- Unemployment benefits
- Retirement income
- Incarceration status
- Current child custody and visitation agreements
After reviewing the information, the court will make a decision regarding the modification. If the court approves the change, the new arrangement will go into effect during the next payment period.
Do Bonus and Commission Payments Count as Income in Child Support Calculations?
The annual gross income of each parent is evaluated when calculating child support payments. According to Section 4058 of the California Family Code, annual gross income includes income from any source derived, including commissions and bonuses. Consequently, yes, bonus and commission payments count as income in child support calculations.
Need a Lawyer for Child Support in Napa?
Negotiating the terms of child support can feel highly burdensome, often complicated by the emotional ties involved in such familial matters. Due to the nature of child support cases, as well as the careful and sensitive way that these matters must be handled, seeking legal assistance is becoming increasingly common.
The Napa child support attorneys at Wine Country Family Law, P.C. have the skill and experience necessary to negotiate your child support with ease. Leveraging our knowledge of California family law and our vast experience with Napa child support courts, we are able to achieve results for our clients. Two of our attorneys previously worked at the California Department of Child Support Services for years. We understand that no two families are alike, and we adjust our approach to match this truth. Call us today at 707-669-0841 to discuss how we can advocate for you.
Our office offers Napa, St. Helena, American Canyon, and Calistoga child support lawyer service options to fit your needs.
Please check out our client reviews to see for yourself what our clients have to say about us. It’s our commitment to providing efficient, high-quality legal services in a friendly manner that sets us apart from the pack!