What is Child Support?
Under California law both parents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support for their children if they are under age 18. In some circumstances, this legal obligation continues even after a child turns 18. After separation or divorce, or in the case where the parents are not married, or not living together, the court may order a parent to make regular payments to support a child’s living. Child support may include monthly cash payments, payment of health insurance, health care costs not covered by insurance, and child care costs.
How is Child Support determined?
In California, child support is determined using state guidelines starting with California Family Code Section 4050. The child support guidelines are based on various factors, including the monthly net income of both parents and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Along with other court forms, each parent must file Form FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration with the court when a child support order is being requested. Various unique and special circumstances may impact the court’s calculation of child support but to get an idea of the amount of child support that may be ordered by the court, access the free guideline child support calculator on the California Department of Child Support Services website. Guideline Calculator
How do I obtain a Court Order for child support?
To obtain an order for child support, you need to have an active case with the court. If there is no existing case, you may need to file one of the following:
If you are married to the other parent, you may file a Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity (Form FL-100). To obtain temporary child support orders while the case is pending you must request a court hearing by filing and serving the FL-300 Request for Order and other court forms as required. You may also request child support in a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (Form DV-100).
If you are not married to the other parent, you may file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Form FL-200). A parentage action can be filed by either the mother or father. If you file a parentage action, you can request orders for custody and visitation as well as child support at that time. To obtain temporary child support orders while the case is pending you must request a court hearing by filing and serving the FL-300 Request for Order and other court forms as required. You may also request child support in a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (Form DV-100). Here’s more information on a parentage action.
A Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children (Form FL-260) (this petition will not terminate your marriage or establish a parental relationship) is also an option where parentage has already been established. Here’s more information on the Petition for Custody and Support of a Minor Child.
Getting help from the LA County Child Support Services Department
The Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department may be able to provide help with opening a child support case. Here’s more information about the services provided by CSSD.
How can the Court Ordered Amount of Child Support be Changed?
After an initial child support order is issued, the amount of the order may be changed if a proper request for modification is filed with the court. Either parent may request a modification of the child support order if there is a change in circumstances. A change in circumstance can occur if there has been a substantial increase or decrease in the earnings by either parent, a change in the custodial arrangements, or a change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Here’s more information on changing a child support order.
Here’s more information on Child Support.