As child support attorneys, our Santa Rosa-based family law team 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 a unique experience.
Not just a lawyer for child support, Santa Rosa attorney Lindsay Torgerson is the firm owner, a parent, divorcee, and adult child of divorce.
In addition, Lindsay worked for the Sonoma County Department of Child Support Services for years prior to establishing her family law firm. Our attorneys use Lindsay’s insight and experience with Sonoma County “DCSS” to help guide you in your child support matters.
During your initial consultation of up to one hour, 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
- Contempt of Court for Failure to Pay Child Support (filing for you or defending for you)
- Child Support Order Evaluation (running calculations to estimate support)
- Family Support Orders
Need a Lawyer for Child Support? Our Santa Rosa Attorneys Can Help.
Our office offers child support legal services in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park, Healdsburg, and Windsor.
Please check out our client reviews to see for yourself what our clients have to say about us. It’s our commitment to providing high-quality legal services in a friendly manner that sets us apart from the pack!
Call our Santa Rosa Child Support Lawyer today at 707-669-0841 or CLICK HERE to request your initial consultation of up to one hour.
Child Support Legal Services in Santa Rosa, California
Child support is one of the most crucial elements in a divorce case – and often, the most emotionally charged. Children deserve to have their best interest looked out for even if their parents are no longer together – but that doesn’t mean it makes these conversations any easier. We understand that these agreements are incredibly unique for each situation, and we want to work with you to determine what works best for you and your family.
At Wine Country Family Law, we focus on getting fair child support agreements that not only meet our clients’ needs, but also provide for their children. You and your child’s other parent presumably both want what is best for your children—determining child support is just a matter of agreeing upon (or allowing a judge to determine) what is truly best for them.
Ready to discuss your case with our family law attorneys? Call 707-669-0841 to set up a consultation now.
California Child Support Laws
Under California law, the goal of child support is to allow a child to enjoy the same standard of living with both parents. This can be pretty simple when both parents earn roughly the same income – and have roughly the same parenting time. However, when there are massive earning disparities or differences in parenting time, child support is often an issue.
California law utilizes a formula that accounts for each parent’s income, the amount of time they spend parenting, and other factors. For example, if one parent is responsible for payment of extraordinary health care expenses, this may be factored into the equation computing child support. Similarly, if one parent is supporting a child from another relationship, this information may also be factored in.
Sometimes, you may have to make child support decisions more than once during your child’s life. Modifications to child support orders are a very commonly sought legal service due to the substantial likelihood of changes in financial positions over a long period of time. Unlike spousal support, child support calculations are the same regardless of what point in the proceeding that they occur, so there is likely not an opportunity for preliminary child support to be changed during the proceeding.
Child Support and Paternity
Child support decisions also often arise when paternity is in question. When a mother wants to seek child support, the first step is proving who the father of the child may be. In California, a child born to a married woman is assumed to be the husband’s child so long as the husband is not knowingly impotent or sterile. If there is any question of the child’s paternity, the court can order a DNA test.
If you’re planning on contesting or establishing paternity, we are here to help. This process can be challenging, especially if you’re just now learning that you might be a father or that a child you presumed to be yours is not biologically related to you. Having an attorney who can remain objective and advocate for your best interests allows you to limit your involvement in the legal process, if that’s what you want, and protect your own mental health.
After paternity is established, the next step is setting up child support and custody. Working with an attorney early in the process allows you to gather the necessary documentation to fight for a fair child support order.
Modifying Child Support
A child support order you negotiated five years ago may no longer meet the needs of you or your children. Perhaps you’re receiving child support, but your co-parent has had a significant increase in income. Maybe you pay child support and you have lost your job. Your children’s activities and expenses may have changed substantially. If you have experienced a change in your circumstances that affects your ability to pay or be paid child support, it is likely that you qualify under California law to request a child support modification.
Our team has handled numerous child support modifications, including those with unusual circumstances. Child support negotiations can be challenging if either parent’s income changes significantly throughout the year, if either parent is self-employed, or if one parent is accused of being paid under the table or works in a “cash only” trade. We know what we’re likely to face when we go to court for a child support modification, and we’re ready to help you get through this process with minimal stress.
How Our Attorneys Can Help with Your Child Support Claim
Choosing the right attorney for your child support case is key. Not only do you want to ensure that your children have what they need to thrive, but you also want to ensure that you are not taken advantage of during the process. We know exactly what to look for to ensure that nothing is being kept from us. We understand that you are worried about your financial future, and we will work hard on your behalf to get a fair child support order.
If you earn substantially less than your co-parent or you have primary custody, you may be concerned about being able to keep your children fed, clothed, and entertained. We know that both parents have an obligation to their children, and we won’t stop until we get a fair agreement that allows you to meet your children’s needs.
Our team has worked on everything from child support cases that follow California standard calculations down to the penny, to cases that have substantial adjustments to accommodate parents who work seasonally, have irregular income, or receive substantial bonuses and/or “perks.” We have also taken on cases where the other parent is hostile or contentious, refusing to supply income documentation or cooperate with court orders. No matter what circumstances you are facing as you prepare for a child support case, we are here to teach you about your options, keep you informed throughout the process, and help you make the best choices for you and your family.
Whether you are filing for child support as a standalone issue or it’s part of a much larger divorce or paternity case, our team at Wine Country Family Law can help. Our goal is to help every client feel informed, empowered, and involved to the extent they want throughout their family law case. While we handle communication with your ex-partner or their attorney, you can minimize your direct contact with them and focus on what is best for your children.
Child Support FAQs
How Is Child Support Calculated in California?
Legally, both parents are required to financially support their child. In some cases, parents are able to negotiate an agreement regarding financial support for their children outside of court. If this is not possible, however, child support may be ordered. The court uses statewide uniform guidelines to determine child support in California, which considers:
- The income of each parent
- Amount of time spent with the child or children
- Other factors such as child-care costs and the mandatory financial duties of each parent
When calculating child support payments, these factors are the chief considerations of the court. California Child Support Services offers a free online tool to help you estimate your child support payments based on these statewide uniform guidelines.
Can Child Support Be Modified in California?
Yes, it is possible to modify child support in California. Either parent may file for a modification of an existing child support order at any point, as long as they have an open case. Generally, major changes in financial or personal circumstances may warrant a modification of child support. These changes may include:
- Loss of employment
- Severe illness or injury
- Less time spent with the child
- Adjustment of income
Court approval is required to modify an existing child support agreement in California. It should be noted that modifications are typically only granted if the support order would change by 20 percent or $50, depending on which is less. Moreover, the child support modification may not reflect what you expect. The courts may order more or less in payment depending on the information provided.
Can a Parent Seek Retroactive Child Support in California?
Yes, according to Section 4009 of the California Family Code, a parent can seek retroactive child support in California. If the court determines that payments should have been made before the date of the child support order, they may issue retroactive child support. Retroactive child support payments can only be sought for the prior three years, however, regardless of the circumstances. This underscores the importance of filing the initial child support petition in a timely manner. Waiting too long to seek child support can impact your ability to fully utilize retroactive support payments.
Retroactive child support is calculated using the statewide uniform guidelines. In these cases, voluntary contributions made by the parent during the retroactive period may be considered, such as payment for medical or childcare expenses. These contributions may offset the retroactive child support awarded to a parent.
How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support in California?
In California, a parent is required to make child support payments until the child turns 18. In cases where the child is not married and still in high school, payments may continue until they are 19. There are specific circumstances in which a parent may stop paying child support. For instance, child support payments stop if the child:
- Gets married or enters a domestic partnership
- Joins the military
- Becomes legally emancipated
- Passes away
Child support obligations can continue past the age of 18 if the child is disabled and not financially self-sufficient, or if both parents mutually agree to continue payments. It is also important to acknowledge that even if the duty to pay child support stops, a parent may be required to pay all past-due support. Failing to fulfill the entire child support obligation can result in civil or criminal legal penalties.
What Happens If a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support in California?
Failing to pay child support in California can have serious legal consequences. There can be both civil and criminal penalties for failing to pay child support, depending on the severity of the case. Moreover, other potential consequences of failing to pay child support in California include:
- Mandatory wage withholding to deduct the payment amount of the parent’s paycheck
- Property liens on homes, retirement accounts, and other real or personal property
- Use of tax return to pay the child support debt
- Loss of driver’s, hunting, and/or boating licenses
- Revocation of passport
If a parent is unable to make child support payments, it is important to seek a modification of the order rather than neglecting the payments altogether. If a parent is experiencing financial hardship and cannot make payments, it may be possible to reduce the child support order to prevent legal consequences.
Reach Out Today to Discuss Your Family Law Needs
If you have any questions about child support, turn to the team at Wine Country Family Law. From exploring your options to navigating negotiations and getting a legal child support agreement, we will be with you every step of the way. To schedule a consultation and discuss your case in greater detail, contact us today.