Guideline Child Support
Courts must use a statutory formula, "the guideline child support formula", which can be found in Family Code section 4055, to determine child support.
The formula is based on principles which many payers of child support consider flawed such as, "Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children." (See Family Code 4053(f).)
Child support is explicitly intended to not only support children but also to support the other parent so the children can enjoy a similar lifestyle in each parent's home. This is why managers for many newly rich male professional athletes have them undergo training explaining women will seduce them simply to have children with them for the purpose of extracting obscene amounts of child support.
Guideline child support is fueling a lot of custody disputes because parents have the perverse incentive to restrict the other parent from the children to increase/decrease the amount of guideline child support. Hopefully someday the California legislature recognizes the perverse incentives guideline child support is creating and does something about the unintended consequences of the legislature's stated principles of child support. Nevada, for instance, has a much more common sense approach to child support, limiting child support to a presumptive maximum for different levels of income with the highest presumptive maximum amount of child support each month being around $1,115 for 2018 and adjusted regularly for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index. So, Californians, contact your state legislators!
The amount of support determined by the guideline child support formula is often harsh, cut and dry, and usually cannot be contested even when it leaves a child support payer unable to pay their other bills, including even their home mortgage or what some might consider their basic expenses. Arguing you cannot afford to pay the guideline amount of child support is a losing argument virtually every time. The court only has the discretion deviate from the guideline child support amount in very limited circumstances.
The guideline child support is determined by a mathematical algebraic formula. In practice, local attorneys and the courts use a computer program to calculate guideline child support, the most common being the Dissomaster. And it is the inputs into that computer program that you can argue about to lower the support you pay or increase the support the other parent pays you. For instance, what's your monthly income, the timeshare of custody, and the other parties income? If you successfully argue about the inputs into the formula, you can effectively change the output of the formula, which is the amount of presumed correct child support. And of course, hiring an attorney to argue for you and conduct investigation and discovery of the other parent's income is essential, since many parents lie about their income to increase/decrease the child support order.
Under Family Code section 4062(a), Courts it is mandatory that courts order payment for child care cases related to employment or training, and reasonable uninsured health care costs. This is on top of the basic guideline child support amount. It is normally paid one half by each parent, but the court has the discretion to order an apportionment based on ratio of the parties net disposable income. In practice, many people lie about paying for child care or inflate the amount they pay to a friend or a relative for childcare. If you don't hire an attorney, you'll find it very challenging to prove that is what is going on and conduct your own discovery and investigation.
Finally, under Family Code 4062(b), on top of basic child support, and mandatory additional child support, the court may order additional child support related to educational or special needs of the children or travel expenses for visitation.
While you can tell from the analysis above that Mr. Tabayoyon is critical of the laws providing for guideline child support in California, he regularly uses them to the advantage of his clients seeking support from the other parent, and is able to minimize the amount of child support paid by his clients. Pay for a consultation to see if this office can help you with your child support issues.
Spousal support, often referred to as alimony, is sometimes awarded by the court. The court has discretion to make an award of support, determine the amount, and the duration. A lot of people do not realize there are two very distinct kinds of spousal support orders.
TEMPORARY SPOUSAL SUPPORT (PENDENTE LITE SUPPORT)
While the case is pending and prior to a judgment, the court may issue a temporary spousal support order based on the needs of the supported party and the supporting party's ability to pay (Marriage of Sampson (2011) 197 CA4th 23, 30). The purported purpose of temporary spousal support is to maintain the status quo of the parties until their property has been divided. This means, in general, that a court is supposed to award an amount that maintains the living conditions and standards of the parties in as close to the status quo as possible pending the disposition of their case. In practice, the income of the supporting party is usually insufficient to maintain the same standard of living as during the marriage for both parties. Unlike child support, the court is not bound to use a guideline formula. For temporary spousal support, the court only considers the supported party's need and the supporting parties ability to pay. The court may also consider all the factors considered in Family Code § 4320 but consideration of all the factors is not mandatory (Marriage of Wittgrove (2004) 120 CA4th 1317, 1328 n7)
PERMANENT SUPPORT (POST JUDGMENT SUPPORT ORDERS)
Don't get too scared or too happy, Permanent Spousal Support orders are rarely actually permanent. Generally speaking, support orders in marriages of short duration (less than 10 years) will be limited to one-half the length of the marriage. For marriages of long duration, half the length of the marriage is also a good rule of thumb, but court can retain jurisdiction indefinitely to order support. To determine the duration and amount of post judgment spousal support, the court will use a number of factors found in Family Code § 4320, including the length of the marriage, each spouse's current income, earning capacity and financial needs. Long-term support orders are driven by the facts of the lives of the parties. This is part of your divorce where a skillful attorney can make a big impact.
The Law Offices of Justin Kirk Tabayoyon provides comprehensive family law representation for all family law matters. Serving Solano County, Contra Costa County, and the Entire Bay Area.