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California child support: Here's what you need to know

All good parents in California and beyond consider the well-being of their children one of their highest priorities in life. Filing for divorce definitely has an impact on children, especially in situations where one parent was a sole provider. If the stay-at home parent is granted custody, child support may be a key issue in the proceedings.

Not every case results in only one parent paying child support. The court can order both parents to make monthly payment to cover expenses related to raising the children involved. Every state has its own guidelines regarding support, and the judge overseeing a particular case may use his or her discretion to determine whether payments are warranted and who will pay them, as well as how much, how often and through what means.

Tom Arnold chooses divorce mediation this time

Many Californians consider themselves big Tom Arnold fans. Many of his fans are aware that he has been married numerous times. In fact, Arnold is preparing for divorce mediation as he and his spouse prepare to end their marriage. Those in Westlake Village or beyond who are considering divorce after a remarriage may want to follow this case.

Arnold, now age 59, has been married to his current spouse for nine years. They have two children together. Arnold has made it known that he wants custody of his kids. The children have lived with their father for several years, ever since their mom moved of the family's home. The situation has reportedly not really had a negative impact on Arnold or his sons.

Are divorce-related legal problems squashing back-to-school fun?

You might be one of many California parents who line your kids up in front of the house to take pictures on the first day of school. If you have kids of different ages, you might find that some are more accommodating than others regarding your little family tradition. The fact is, traditions, routine and daily structure in a child's life are valuable tools that help most kids thrive.

If you filed for divorce this past summer, such things may be especially helpful as you and your children cope with the situation and move on in life. The back-to-school season is typically a time of adjustment, whether you and your spouse live under the same roof or are navigating your first school year as post-divorce co-parents. If the latter is the case, building a strong support network from the start is a key factor that will help everyone involved adapt to a new lifestyle.

National child support campaign just ended in August

There are many social, political and economic issues that advocate groups like to promote on a national level to raise awareness and to provide resources for those in need. One such issue is child support. In fact, the month of August is dedicated in California and throughout the country as "National Child Support Awareness Month."

The office of a child support department official in another state collected more than $2 million between the first of the year and the month of July. The department in question has had over 1,600 active cases in its system. No matter which side of the issue a particular parent happens to be on, it is critical that he or she adheres to an existing court order regarding financial supplements for children. 

Child support: What exactly does it cover?

Just as in any year, there will be quite a few California parents that file for divorce in 2019. Chances are, many such cases will also involve child support. Questions may arise regarding what court-ordered payments are intended for insofar as financially providing for children is concerned.

Some people mistakenly believe that child support monies must only be used to provide basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. The fact is there are many other types of expenses that it would be perfectly acceptable to use child support money to cover. For instance, if a custodial parent must go to work outside the home, thereby creating a need to place the children in day care, monthly support payments can help cover child care costs.

Disregarding child support order can land you behind bars

California judges typically order parents to support their children financially when they divorce. Parents who were never married but end their relationships are also subject to child support orders. It should come as no surprise that it's a big mistake to disregard a court order, as popular commentator Steve Gill recently learned.

Anyone who knocks on Gill's door at home will not find him there, at least for the time being. That's because he is in jail. In May, a judge ordered him to pay $170,000 in child support. Gill was given 10 days to pay the past due amount in full. Such decisions are made at the court's discretion and while there are typically state guidelines to help judges formulate their decisions, the court considers each case by its own merit.

Child support doesn't always have to prompt litigation

When California parents decide to divorce, they have to resolve numerous issues concerning their children's futures. Where their kids will live is often the first, most basic concern. Beyond that, how complex or simple the divorce process is depends on the details of a specific couple's situation. If child support is an issue, it may be possible to avoid litigation. Doing so requires a willingness on both sides to cooperate and compromise, as needed.

Parents can make their own agreement. However, it will be subject to court approval. Getting the court involved may the easiest way to avoid serious legal problems down the line if a disagreement happens to arise.

Working together on a parenting plan that actually works

When you face the possibility of divorce, you probably have serious concerns about what this decision will mean for your future relationship with your children. While you want to protect their best interests, you also want to protect your parental rights and access to your kids. Fortunately, it is possible to do both.

Through a carefully constructed and thoughtfully negotiated parenting plan, two California parents can help their kids transition and thrive after divorce. They can also help themselves by having a thorough system in place that reduces the chance for future disputes. You do not have to fight it out with the other parent in court or hope that an impersonal family law court gives you what you want -- you can craft your own parenting plan and your own post-divorce future.

Divorce mediation: Helpful tips for California parents

It is understandable that a California parent wants to avoid going to court when trying to resolve child-related issues in divorce. Many times, divorce mediation can be used to help co-parents achieve amicable and fair agreements regarding child custody, visitation or other matters. Mediation is definitely not for everyone, so it pays to speak to someone well-versed on such issues to help determine if it is a viable option in a given set of circumstances.

Establishing a co-parenting agreement out of court requires a willingness to cooperate and compromise as parenting partners. Getting the court's approval to proposed terms means the agreement in question would be legally binding and enforceable. A mediated agreement may address many issues beyond the physical residence of children, such as eating habits, religious practices, bed times and more.

Not hostile toward each other? Collaborative law might work

Not every California couple who divorces gets entangled in a contentious courtroom battle. Some spouses still get along well, perhaps even consider each other good friends. That does not necessarily mean they are happy in their marriages; however, it does mean that spouses who wish to part ways on amicable terms may want to consider collaborative law as an option.

When a mutual goal is to avoid litigation, spouses might be willing to sign a participation agreement to obtain a collaborative law divorce. Doing so often means spouses are able to achieve settlements in less time than it takes to litigate custody, visitation, support or property division issues. Collaboration sessions are typically a lot less expensive than going to court, as well.

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Law Office of Edward S. Matisoff
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Westlake Village, CA 91362

Phone: 805-666-0980
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