Parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their children until they are adults, with some limited exceptions.
In California, the court may order one or both parents to pay child support. The goal is to ensure that the child shares in the parents’ standard of living and their needs are met.
Child support payment amounts are based on the parents’ monthly income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Income may include wages from a job, tips, commissions, bonuses and other income.
Parents must also provide health insurance for their children. If health insurance isn’t available immediately, the court will order the parents to provide insurance when it becomes available.
If both parents agree on the child support amount, they can sign a stipulation which establishes legal responsibility for the children. However, the contents of stipulations vary based on the parents’ individual circumstances.
Parents should know that the child support order does not automatically change if one or both parents lose a job or earn more money. The parents will need to go to court if there is a change in circumstances to amend the child support order.
Failure to pay child support
If a parent fails to pay child support, there may be serious consequences. These include suspension of the parent’s driver’s license, passport and/or professional license. In addition, his or her tax refunds or insurance payments can be intercepted.
When all other options have been exhausted, the parent who fails to pay may be found in contempt of court, arrested and imprisoned.
Child support can seem complex, but an experienced attorney can help parents understand the process and answer their questions.