Child Support • Spousal Support • Alimony • Family Maintenance

Parents are obligated to care for minor children no matter where the child is living or whether the parents were or are married. Under California law, parents must provide food, clothing, shelter, health, education, religious and social well being.

Often, parents reach a mutual agreement on the care and custody of children. The parent with less custodial time or more income is generally ordered to make monthly payments for a child’s care and financial needs to the other parent.

Child support is calculated using a strict guideline based upon the parties’ custodial time, income and other financial resources, needs, and obligations. Upon proper showing, the court may consider additional factors such as a child’s customary needs that may include special medical, emotional or educational requirements.

Generally, the obligation to pay child support continues until the first to occur of the following events: the parent paying support dies, the minor child dies, the minor child marries, the minor child is declared emancipated, the minor child completes grade 12 or the minor child reaches the age of 19. Parents may agree to extend support an adult child. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child who is not self-supporting.

Under new California law, child support must be paid through the State Disbursement Unit and not directly to the supported parent. If the payor is employed, a wage garnishment order may be issued to take the money out directly from the payor’s wages.

In the event circumstances change for the child or parent, modification of support orders may be necessary. However, it is not prudent to decrease support when a court order is in place, either unilaterally or by agreement. You are at risk of being considered arrears (behind on your payment) and have to pay interest on any unpaid child support amount. Call us if you have any questions about child support in California.

Spousal Support

It is California’s policy that each spouse be self-supporting. However, there are situations during a marriage where one spouse is the breadwinner while the other spouse is a homemaker, has considerably lower income, or does not have the skills to be self-supporting immediately. In such cases, that lower wage-earning or unemployed spouse may be entitled to receive monthly spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance in other states.

If you have a marriage of long duration (lasting more than 10 years), you may be entitled to spousal support for an indefinite amount of time. For marriages of less than 10 years, the general rule is spousal support lasts one-half the term of the marriage. However, if the spouse has an on-going medical condition or is elderly, support may very well continue for the duration of the couple’s lives no matter how long or short the marriage. Each situation is different, and not every spouse is entitled to spousal support.

Unlike child support, the amount of spousal support depends on a variety of different factors including but not limited to looking at the marital lifestyle of the parties and determining whether the supported spouse is the primary care-giver for a young child, the supported spouse has marketable skills, or the supporting spouse has the ability to pay. While the court may look at guideline support (support calculated pursuant to a set mathematical formula), the court must consider the above-mentioned factors prior to setting the support amount. As with child support, in the event of significant change in basic requirements or needs or ability to pay, modifications in the payment may be requested.

Generally, an ongoing obligation to pay support terminates when the supported spouse remarries or dies.

At the Law Offices of James T. Raetz, our experience with handling complex divorce and matrimonial issues enable us to ably represent you in the initial development of a child or spousal support order, petitioning for a change in prior orders as well as seeking enforcement of support obligations. Call our law firm at (310) 292-3087 or (949) 623-8410 to arrange a consultation to discuss your particular needs.