Child Support in California

The California Court define­­s “child support” as: the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay every month to help pay for the support of the child (or children) and the child’s living expenses.

According to California’s Family Code Section 3900, both parents share an equal responsibility to support their child in a manner suitable to the child’s circumstances. While both parents can make an agreement regarding child support, the courts are not bound by these agreements and can make an order that contradicts the agreement made by both parents. The court has the power to modify a child support order upward or downward.

Child support payments are usually made until the child (or children) turns 18, but a parent continues to owe child support for any unmarried child who is 18 and a full-time high school student who is not self-supporting. In this case, a parent’s obligation to pay child support continues until the child either completes 12th grade or turns 19, whichever occurs first.

Hidden income is one of the most common problems that arises during a child support dispute. Discovery is the process by which lawyers obtain financial records to determine a party’s actual income. Finding hidden income can in turn lower or raise your child support payments. Hidden income can be as simple as writing off personal expenses as business expenses or as complex as failing to disclose foreign business income. It is important to have a lawyer develop a discovery plan and review financial records in order to obtain a party’s most accurate income. To help us and your case, we may use external professionals such as CPAs and forensic accountants to search for irregularities in your ex-spouse’s accounts. Morales Law is skilled in this process and we have found opposing parties’ attempts to hide millions of dollars, leading to substantial increases in financial support for our clients.

If you have a question about child support, contact Morales Law. We will ensure your rights are protected and you receive or pay the correct amount of child support.
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