Helping You Find the Best Path Forward
Child Support Lawyer in Kern County
Whether you're a prospective payor or recipient in a child support dispute, you're probably wondering how you can achieve an outcome that helps your child receive the resources they need.
At Divorced by Design, our Bakersfield child support attorneys understand the ins and outs of child support laws in California. We'll work with you to pursue an equitable outcome that ensures your child obtains the support they deserve.
What is Child Support?
Child support refers to the financial support that a noncustodial parent is legally obligated to provide for their child after a separation or divorce. The purpose of child support is to ensure that both parents contribute financially to the upbringing of their child, even if they no longer live together.
In California, child support is typically determined based on state guidelines that consider factors such as each parent's income, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and certain deductions. The court may order one parent to pay child support to the other, depending on the circumstances.
Common types of child-related expenses covered by child support in California include:
- Basic Needs: Child support often covers the basic necessities of a child, such as food, shelter, and clothing.
- Healthcare Costs: Child support may include provisions for the child's health insurance premiums, as well as uninsured or unreimbursed medical expenses.
- Education Expenses: This can include expenses related to the child's education, such as school fees, supplies, and extracurricular activities.
- Childcare Costs: If the custodial parent incurs childcare expenses due to work or other commitments, child support may cover a portion of these costs.
- Housing and Utilities: The noncustodial parent's child support contribution may go towards the child's share of housing and utility costs in the custodial parent's home.
- Transportation: Child support may cover transportation costs associated with the child's visitation, such as travel expenses or the cost of maintaining a vehicle for transporting the child.
How Does Child Support Work in California?
There are 49 child support agencies spread out across the state of California. The agency you work with on your child support case will be determined by the county that you file for child support in.
So how does child support work in California? Generally, the custodial parent - whichever parent the child spends a majority of their time living with - receives child support payments. If a parent wishes to receive child support, they must either visit their local child support agency and fill out an application at the agency, or do so online. The agency will then work with the parent to initiate a child support case with the court.
After opening a child support case, the agency will work with the parent to ensure both parents are located. After the prospective child support payor is located, they will be given a Summons and Complaint packet notifying them of the support case. They have 30 days to respond. If they choose not to respond, the court may award the parent or guardian who initiated the case with a default judgment awarding them support.
Assuming both parents named in the support case have legal parentage of the child the case is for, they then have two options:
- Form a stipulated agreement. If the parents agree on a child support arrangement, they can work with their attorneys to draft and sign an agreement detailing those terms. A court can then approve the agreement to finalize the support arrangement.
- Litigate the case in court. If the parents disagree, the parents can attend court together and present their cases to the judge. The judge will then determine an equitable arrangement and issue a child support order.
After a child support order is established, the support payor's employer will be responsible for automatically deducting child support from their paycheck.
When Does Child Support End in California?
In California, child support generally ends when the child turns 18, which is the age of majority in California. At this point, the child is considered legally emancipated, and the custodial parent is no longer entitled to receive child support. Additionally, if the child is still attending high school and is not yet 19 years old, child support may continue until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever comes first.
If the child becomes emancipated, gets married, or enters active military service before reaching the age of majority, child support may end. Emancipation occurs when a minor is legally declared independent of their parents and assumes adult responsibilities.
In some cases, if the child has a severe disability that prevents them from becoming self-supporting, child support may continue beyond the age of majority. This situation would typically require a court order.
It's important to note that child support orders are subject to modification if there are significant changes in circumstances, such as changes in the financial situation of either parent or changes in the child's needs. Additionally, parents can agree to modify child support through a written agreement, but such agreements may need court approval to be legally enforceable.
What Happens If You Fail to Pay Child Support?
If a parent in California fails to pay child support as ordered by the court, there are several legal consequences and enforcement measures that can be taken to ensure compliance. The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) and the court system work together to enforce child support orders.
Here are some potential consequences for a parent who fails to pay child support in California:
- Wage Garnishment: The court may order the noncustodial parent's employer to withhold a portion of the parent's wages to cover past-due child support. This process is known as wage garnishment, and it ensures that child support payments are deducted directly from the parent's paycheck.
- Bank Account Levies: If the noncustodial parent has failed to pay child support and owes a significant amount in arrears, the court may order the seizure of funds from the parent's bank accounts to satisfy the unpaid child support debt.
- Driver's License Suspension: The California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) may suspend the driver's license of a parent who is significantly delinquent in child support payments. This measure is intended to encourage compliance with support orders.
- Professional and Occupational License Suspension: The state can suspend or deny the issuance or renewal of professional and occupational licenses (such as a business license, contractor's license, or real estate license) for a parent who is in arrears on child support.
- Passport Denial: The U.S. Department of State can deny or revoke a noncustodial parent's passport if they owe more than $2,500 in child support.
- Contempt of Court: If a parent willfully refuses to comply with a court order to pay child support, they may be held in contempt of court. Contempt of court can result in fines, imprisonment, or other penalties.
- Property Liens: The court may place liens on the noncustodial parent's property, such as real estate, to secure payment of past-due child support.
Would recommend him 100x
“Mr. Rice went above and beyond for my parents. He answered all of our questions and made us feel very comfortable and at ease! Would recommend him 100x.”- Chelsey Crump
He’s a man of his word and he takes the worry out of this process
“I highly recommend Garrett Rice if you need a divorce attorney. Divorce can be chaotic and stressful but not with him. He’s a man of his word and he takes the worry out of this process. his office is very responsive and they are with you every step of the way! Garrett goes above and beyond!!!”- Whitney Rainwater
Garret represented my case with the utmost professionalism and care
“Garret represented my case with the utmost professionalism and care. I really felt that he provided a personal touch with his representation. I thoroughly believe that without his knowledge and litigation expertise, I would have had a different outcome in my case.”- Nick Lidgett
Whether you need your divorce handled with white gloves or a shark in the court Garrett is your man!
“Mr. Rice is an amazing lawyer not only was he efficient he listened to my needs and the needs of my children and executed them perfectly in court. He’s a no-nonsense lawyer with a proven track record. Whether you need your divorce handled with white gloves or a shark in the court Garrett is your man! I will definitely recommend him to any and everyone I know! I’ve had 2 other lawyers in Bakersfield and no one is even close to as good as him. He’s the smartest person in the room by far and doesn’t accept the games played in family court.”- Justin Debrum
Garrett is a very compassionate and understanding attorney
“Garrett is a very compassionate and understanding attorney. He is not in it for the money but only for the best interest of you and your family. He will not give you false hopes during the case. Garrett is always prepared for court, speaks very direct, dresses very nicely and is presentable for court, and is highly favored by the judges. Every time we went to court we received the results we wanted and he did all the talking. He defends you in and out of court when the other side wants to get out of line. I love that he gives his clients his direct number and you can contact him directly whenever. We are very seasoned with the attorneys here in Bakersfield, and 98% of them are money hungry, have no interest in your case (but they will fake it to get your money), and will continue your case for years which equals thousands of dollars you will never see again. So! If you are looking for an attorney who will get the job done and genuinely cares about you or are debating changing attorneys because they fall in that 98% category, GARRETT IS YOUR MAN! You’ll thank me later 😉”- Camille Elijah
Family-CenteredOur team is here to shoulder the legal burden of your case so that you can focus on caring for your family.
Free ConsultationsWe understand you have questions, our firm provides free consultations to help get you started in the right direction.
Flexible SchedulesWe understand that dealing with a family law dispute is never easy. We want to help ease that burden by making ourselves available when you need us most.
Customized StrategiesOur attorneys will customize their strategy to you and your needs, helping you identify and pursue a positive resolution in your case.