Child support is the amount of money a court orders one parent to pay the other to help provide for the welfare of the child, including food, shelter, clothing and other day-to-day necessities, until they are of legal age, or 18. The same factors that determine the custody of a child will be considered when dealing with child support, in that, if a parent is granted sole custody of a child, and that same parent can sufficiently provide for the welfare of the child, then child support from the other parent isn’t needed.
In California, significant factors must be weighed when determining the amount of support based on a determined set of guidelines, which include the income of each parent and how much custodial time each parent will spend with the child. Payments are required to be paid in a timely and consistent matter, and when it’s determined that the person paying support will not be able to do so, or falls behind on their payments, the judge can order garnishment of wages to guarantee payments. If it is found that a person is willfully not paying support, they can be found in contempt of court, which could mean jail time.
A change in circumstances can change the terms of child support, including:
- The loss of a job.
- The incarceration of a parent.
- One parent has another child from a different relationship.
- Changes in the amount of time a child spends with each parent.
- Healthcare or educational costs may have changed based on the needs of the child.
- The factors used to calculate child support have changed.
A request for changes in child support (called a stipulation or modification depending on whether the parents can agree on the change or not) can be made by either parent, but you must be able to prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last child support order. A judge must sign off on the request before the changes can go into effect.