Law Offices of Keith Banks provides legal assistance to residents of Yolo, Sacramento, Solano and Placer counties involved in child support cases. We can assist you with getting the initial support order, enforcing a current support order or modifying a current support order.
Apart from child custody, child support is often the most contentious aspect of a divorce or parentage action. What parties sometimes don’t understand is that the child, not the parent, holds the rights to this support. Parents cannot agree to pay an amount less than they owe without the court’s permission.
California has even written this requirement into statute. According to California Family Code section 4053, the first and principal obligation for both parents is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and situation in life.
In most cases, two main criteria dictate child support obligations:
- The time each parent spends with the child or children
- The income of both parents
However, other factors, such as support obligations from a previous marriage, can change the amount owed.
How Long Will You Pay Child Support?
California law states that a parent is obligated to pay child support until the child is 18 years old. However, there are certain exceptions:
- The duty to pay support ends if the child receives a declaration of emancipation from a court, enters into a valid marriage, or enters active military duty.
- The duty to pay child support extends until the child is 19 years old or completes the 12th grade, whichever is sooner, if the child is 18 years old, a full-time high school student, and not self-supporting,
- The duty to pay may also be extended if the child has certain special needs.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Child support is designed to cover a range of expenses and not just the basics, such as food and clothing. The following are other expenses that child support can cover:
- Medical Care
- Uninsured Medical Expenses
- School Fees and Expenses
- Transportation and Travel
- Extracurricular Activities
What if You Miss a Payment?
Missing a support payment creates what is known as an “arrear.” A support arrear for child support must be paid. Without an agreement by the owed spouse, the arrear cannot be discharged with bankruptcy and cannot be forgiven by the court. Not only will you be required to pay the missed amount, but you will also be required to pay interest. Don't delay in seeking help if you are unsure if you can continue affording to pay support because you have lost your job or your income has significantly decreased.