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How is custody determined in California?

If you and the other parent are unable to come to an agreement regarding a parenting plan, you may need to seek a court ruling. In determining the most suitable course of action for the child, the judge will take into account several factors such as the child’s age, health, and emotional connections with both parents, their ties to their school, home, and community, as well as the capacity of each parent to provide care. Additionally, any history of family violence and regular substance abuse by either parent will be considered. Ultimately, the judge will render a decision based on what they believe to be in the best interest of the child.

What types of custody arrangements are available in California?

In California, there are two main types of child custody arrangements: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. In California, legal custody can be awarded as either joint custody, where both parents have equal decision-making authority, or sole custody, where only one parent has decision-making authority.

Physical custody refers to the right to have the child physically present with the parent. In California, physical custody can also be awarded as joint custody, where the child spends significant time with both parents, or sole custody, where the child primarily resides with one parent and has visitation with the other parent.

Within these broad categories, there are also different types of custody arrangements that can be established, depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the family. For example, a court may order a “nesting” arrangement, where the child stays in one home and the parents rotate in and out of the home on a schedule. Alternatively, the court may order supervised visitation if there are concerns about the safety or well-being of the child when they are with one of the parents. Learn more about custody arrangements in California.

Can a parent modify a custody order if circumstances change?

Yes, a parent can request a modification of a custody order in California if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original custody order was issued.

In order to modify a custody order, the parent must file a request with the court and demonstrate that there has been a material change in circumstances since the previous order was made and that the modification is in the best interests of the child. Examples of material changes in circumstances that may warrant a modification include relocation, changes in work schedules, or a change in the child’s needs.

The court will evaluate the evidence presented by both parents and make a determination based on what is in the best interest of the child. The court may modify the custody order by changing the physical or legal custody arrangements, or by changing the visitation schedule.

It’s important to note that a parent cannot modify a custody order simply because they are unhappy with the current arrangement or because they want to punish the other parent. The parent must demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances and that the modification is in the best interest of the child. Learn more about custody modifications in California.

What is a child custody evaluation?

In California, courts order child custody evaluations to help judges determine what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. The evaluator provides a detailed report to the court, which outlines the living situation and relationships with parents. The report may make recommendations for custody and visitation schedules, which the judge may consider in making a final custody decision. The evaluator may also identify any potential issues that may arise, such as substance abuse or mental health problems. Learn more about custody evaluations in California.

What happens if one parent violates a custody order in California?

If one parent violates a custody order in California, the other parent can seek enforcement of the order through the court.

The parent who believes that the other parent has violated the custody order can file a motion with the court asking for enforcement of the order. The motion must describe the specific violations that occurred and the parent’s efforts to resolve the matter outside of court. The parent may also request sanctions against the other parent, such as a fine or attorney’s fees, for the violation of the custody order.

The court may hold a hearing to determine whether the other parent has violated the custody order and, if so, what remedies are appropriate. The court may order the violating parent to comply with the original custody order and may also modify the custody order to prevent further violations.

If the court finds that a parent has willfully and intentionally violated the custody order, that parent may be found in contempt of court, which can result in fines, attorney’s fees, and even imprisonment in some cases.

It’s important for parents to follow custody orders and work together to resolve any disputes that arise. Violating a custody order can have serious consequences and can harm the child’s well-being. Contact our experienced California custody lawyers today if you feel your custody order is being violated.

Can a parent relocate with their child after a custody order has been established?

In California, move-away cases are complex legal disputes that require parents to seek the assistance of a family law attorney with expertise in child custody cases. When a parent with joint or sole custody of their child decides to relocate to a new location that would disrupt the current custodial arrangement, the other parent may oppose the move, leading to a dispute over custody and visitation rights.

The parent who wishes to move must provide a valid reason for the relocation, such as a new job opportunity, a need to be closer to family or medical care, or other compelling circumstances. The other parent may argue that the move is not in the child’s best interests, citing factors such as the distance between the child and the non-relocating parent, the impact of the move on the child’s education, social life, or relationship with the non-relocating parent, and other relevant considerations.

Ultimately, the court will make a decision based on the specific circumstances of the case. The outcome of the case may be a modification of the existing custody order to reflect the new arrangement or a denial of the move-away request. It is important for parents involved in move-away cases to have the guidance and representation of an experienced attorney to navigate the legal process and protect their rights and interests, as well as their child’s well-being. Learn more about California move-away cases.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation refers to a situation in which one parent actively works to undermine the relationship between their child and the other parent. This can take many forms, including speaking poorly of the other parent, withholding affection, or preventing the child from spending time with the targeted parent. In severe cases, the alienating parent may go as far as to brainwash the child into believing that the targeted parent is harmful or unworthy of their love and attention. Learn more about the devasting issue of parental alienation in California.

What makes a parent unfit for custody in California?

In California, a parent may be found unfit for custody if they have engaged in behavior or actions that demonstrate they are unable or unwilling to provide proper care for their child. Some of the factors that may be considered in determining a parent’s fitness for custody include:

  1. Abuse or neglect: If a parent has been found to have physically, emotionally, or sexually abused or neglected their child, this can be grounds for a finding of unfitness.
  2. Substance abuse: If a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse that has resulted in an inability to care for the child or has caused harm to the child, this can be a factor in determining unfitness.
  3. Mental illness: If a parent has a mental illness that prevents them from providing proper care for the child or that poses a risk to the child’s safety or well-being, this can be a factor in determining unfitness.
  4. Criminal behavior: If a parent has a history of criminal behavior or has been convicted of a crime that demonstrates a lack of concern for the child’s welfare, this can be a factor in determining unfitness.
  5. Domestic violence: If a parent has a history of domestic violence or has engaged in behavior that poses a risk to the child’s safety or well-being, this can be a factor in determining unfitness.

In determining a parent’s fitness for custody, the court will consider all relevant factors and will make a determination based on what is in the best interests of the child. The court may order supervised visitation, limit the parent’s custody or visitation rights, or even terminate the parent’s parental rights if they are found to be unfit.

What does it mean to establish parentage in California?

Establishing parentage in California means legally determining who the parents of a child are. This process is also commonly referred to as establishing paternity. When a child is born to married parents, the law presumes that the husband is the father of the child. However, when a child is born to unmarried parents, parentage must be established through a legal process.

In California, there are several ways to establish parentage. The most common way is through a voluntary declaration of paternity. This is a legal document signed by both parents that acknowledges the man as the biological father of the child. If the parents are unable to agree on paternity, either parent can file a court case to establish parentage. Genetic testing may be ordered to determine the biological relationship between the alleged father and child. Once paternity is established, the court can then make orders for child support, custody, and visitation.

What is the best interest of the child standard?

The “best interest of the child” standard is a legal principle that is used to guide decisions in matters involving children, such as custody, visitation, and adoption. The basic idea behind the standard is that in any decision related to a child, the court or other decision-maker should consider what will be best for the child’s overall well-being, taking into account all relevant factors.

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of what constitutes the best interest of the child, as it can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. However, some common factors that may be considered include the child’s age, health, and emotional well-being; the relationship between the child and each parent or caregiver; the child’s educational and social needs; and any history of abuse or neglect.

In general, the best interest of the child standard is intended to prioritize the child’s welfare over the desires or interests of other parties involved in the matter. Learn more about the best interest of the child standard.

How long do I have to live in California before I can file for divorce?

In California, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months before filing for divorce, and you must have lived in the county where you file for divorce for at least three months. So, once you have met the residency requirement, you can file for divorce in California.

What are the legal grounds for divorce in California?

According to California Family Code Section 2310, a divorce (officially called dissolution of marriage) can be granted on two grounds in California: 1) the irremediable breakdown of the marriage caused by irreconcilable differences or 2) incurable insanity.

California follows a “no-fault divorce” policy, which means that a divorce will be granted if one spouse states that there are irreconcilable differences that warrant the dissolution of the marriage. The court does not require actual proof of the differences, and fault is not assigned to either spouse.

However, a divorce can only be granted on the grounds of “incurable insanity” if the insane spouse was incurable at the time the divorce petition was filed and remains incurable. Proof, such as reliable medical or psychiatric testimony, is required for this ground of divorce.

How much does a divorce cost in California?

Everyone wants to be careful with attorney fees, us included. Potential clients always ask our lawyers how much their case will cost. Unfortunately, we can’t provide much insight into their final bill, because there are too many factors at play. The most critical factor impacting the overall cost of a case is the degree of conflict. A client’s ability to control the degree of conflict in a family law dispute is sometimes limited. The amount of conflict is often unknown or underestimated.

Many other factors may also impact the cost of a case. Those include poor strategic planning and selecting an attorney based on factors not related to your goal. Since there are so many things impacting the cost of a case, it’s impossible for a good attorney to quote you an overall cost. We can, however, use our experience to provide you insight into how certain factors impact the average cost, as determined by the American Bar Association.

You can learn more about the cost of a divorce attorney in California by visiting our fees & costs page. You may also be interested in our calculators to help you determine the costs associated with your unique case. However, for the best estimate on the cost of your case, we recommend speaking with one of our experienced California divorce attorneys as they can evaluate the specifics of your case and explain what you can expect. At Modern Family Law we understand the concerns many have with regards to the cost of their case. As such, we are proud to offer our one-of-a-kind SimpleStart™ reduced retainer program to help clients with affording their representation. Learn how you can apply for a reduced retainer.

How long will it take to get a divorce in California?

Under California divorce law, a mandatory waiting period is in place, meaning that a divorce decree will not be issued until at least six months have passed since filing the divorce petition. This waiting period ensures that both parties have ample time to consider the decision and work through any necessary negotiations before the divorce is finalized. It’s recommended to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific timelines and requirements of the case.

How is marital property divided in California?

California law recognizes the concept of community property, which means that both spouses share equal ownership of any income or assets acquired during the marriage. Upon divorce, community property is divided equally between the spouses, and both parties are equally liable for any debts incurred during the marriage (Cal. Fam. Code §§ 760, 910 (2022)).

However, in California, the community property rule does not apply to earnings, assets, or debts acquired by either spouse after separation. While there is no requirement for a legal separation, California courts have held that the separation must be permanent for this rule to apply (Cal. Fam. Code § 771 (2022)).

Can I make changes to an existing divorce decree in California?

Modifying a divorce decree in California is a common occurrence when the terms of the decree no longer align with your current circumstances. There are various reasons why individuals may seek to modify their divorce decrees, such as changes in financial situations or parenting time arrangements.

If you or your spouse has experienced a significant change in circumstances since the divorce was finalized, you may be eligible to modify the terms of your divorce decree. However, you will need to prove that the modification is necessary and that there has been a change in circumstances.

Examples of changes in circumstance that may warrant a modification include one spouse losing their job, one spouse remarrying, or the evolving needs of minor children as they grow older.

Is California a no-fault divorce state?

California is a no-fault state, meaning you are not required to provide a reason for wanting to end your marriage. Even if infidelity occurred during the marriage, it cannot be used to sway the judge’s decision regarding the division of assets and liabilities, spousal support, or child custody and support arrangements.

Can I get an annulment in California?

An annulment (or nullity) in California refers to a court order issued by a judge stating that your marriage or domestic partnership was never legally valid due to a legal issue present from the start. Obtaining an annulment renders your marriage null and void since it was never legally recognized.

To obtain an annulment, you must provide a specific legal reason why your marriage was not valid from the start, and only then can a judge grant the annulment. Examples of legal reasons for annulment include one spouse being married to another person (bigamy), getting married while under 18 when it was not legal to do so, or being tricked into marriage by your spouse. Notably, having a very short marriage alone is not sufficient legal grounds for an annulment.

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

In California, a legal separation is a court process where a married couple can live separately and have their rights and responsibilities defined by a court order, without officially ending their marriage. On the other hand, a divorce, also known as a dissolution of marriage, is a court process that officially terminates a marriage.

In a legal separation, the couple lives apart and negotiates a settlement agreement that outlines things such as property division, child custody, and support. This agreement is submitted to the court and, once approved by a judge, becomes a court order that the couple must follow. However, they remain legally married.

In a divorce, the marriage is officially terminated, and the court divides property, determines support obligations, and establishes custody and visitation rights, among other things. The couple may also negotiate and agree on these matters outside of court, but the final judgment of divorce is issued by a judge.

The main difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that a legal separation does not terminate the marriage, and the parties cannot remarry unless they obtain a divorce. Some couples choose legal separation over divorce for personal or religious reasons or to maintain certain benefits, such as health insurance or social security benefits, that may be lost in a divorce.

What is divorce mediation in California?

If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on all or some issues in your divorce, you can seek the assistance of a mediator. By reaching an agreement through mediation before filing for divorce, you can benefit from the time and cost savings associated with an uncontested divorce.

Additionally, mediation can be used at any stage of the divorce process and even after the divorce is finalized, to help resolve disputes that may arise, such as disagreements over changes to child custody, alimony, or child support.

What should I do if I am considering a divorce?

If you are considering divorce, it is important to take time to evaluate your situation and explore your options. Here are some steps that you can take:

1. Seek professional help: Consider seeking help from a therapist, counselor, or divorce coach who can provide guidance and support as you navigate this difficult time.

2. Consult with an attorney: If you are serious about pursuing a divorce, consult with a divorce attorney to understand the legal process, your rights, and your options.

3. Communicate with your spouse: If possible, have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about your feelings and concerns. It is important to discuss any potential issues that could arise during the divorce process, such as child custody, property division, and support payments.

4. Gather important documents: Start gathering important documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and insurance policies. These documents will be necessary during the divorce process.

5. Create a plan: Develop a plan for how you will move forward after the divorce, including financial planning and childcare arrangements if you have children.

Remember that divorce is a complex and emotional process, and it is important to take the time to make informed decisions. Seek support from friends and family, and be kind to yourself as you navigate this difficult time. Our compassionate divorce lawyers have compiled a list of their expert tips for when you are considering a divorce.

What types of adoption are available in California?

There are several types of adoption available in California, including:

  1. Agency adoption: This is when a licensed adoption agency handles the adoption process and matches the child with the adoptive family.
  2. Independent adoption: This is when the birth parents and the adoptive parents work together to arrange the adoption without the involvement of an adoption agency.
  3. Step-parent adoption: This is when a step-parent legally adopts the child of their spouse.
  4. Relative adoption: This is when a family member, such as a grandparent or aunt/uncle, adopts the child.
  5. Foster parent adoption: This is when a foster parent adopts a child who has been in their care.
  6. International adoption: This is when a child is adopted from a foreign country.

What is a domestic partnership in California?

The California Family Code defines Domestic Partnership as a committed relationship between two adults who choose to share their lives intimately and care for each other. To be officially recognized as domestic partners, certain criteria must be met:

  1. Both individuals must share a common residence.
  2. They must agree to take responsibility for each other’s basic living expenses.
  3. Neither person can be married or in another domestic partnership.
  4. The two individuals cannot be related by blood.
  5. Both persons must be at least 18 years old.
  6. Both persons must be of the same sex, or over age 62 if they are of opposite genders.
  7. A Declaration of Domestic Partnership must be filed with the California Secretary of State to register as domestic partner.

Is common law marriage recognized in California?

In California, common-law marriages are not recognized. Even if you have been living with your partner for a long time, you will not have the same rights and benefits as a married couple unless you legally marry in California.

What is divorce arbitration in California?

Divorce arbitration in California is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, called an arbitrator, helps couples resolve their divorce-related disputes outside of court. The arbitrator listens to both sides of the dispute, considers evidence, and makes a binding decision that the couple must follow. This is different from mediation, where the mediator helps the couple come to a voluntary agreement, but the decision is not binding.

In California, divorce arbitration can be voluntary or court-ordered. Couples who choose to use arbitration often do so because it is a faster and more private process than going to court. It can also be less expensive than traditional litigation. However, it’s important to note that the decision made by the arbitrator is final and cannot be appealed, except in limited circumstances.

Can I appeal a family court decision in California?

If you feel that a family court judgment is unjust, California law allows you to file an appeal. You can appeal any family law court decision on child custody, visitation, spousal or child support, property division, or any other issue by requesting a review from a state appellate court.

An appeal may be based on several grounds, including lack of evidence in the case, abuse of discretion by the trial court, or the trial court’s incorrect interpretation or application of California family law. When an appeal is based on a misapplication of the law, the appeals court will use a rigorous standard of review.

However, the appellate court is limited in what it can do regarding your family law appeal. Once the trial court has finalized its judgment in California, you have a set time limit to file a notice of appeal. You must file your appeal within 60 days of the date you received the “Notice of Entry” of the court judgment or the date when the copy of the judgment (file stamped) was mailed to you.

What is divorce mediation in California?

Divorce mediation in California is a process in which a neutral third-party mediator helps a divorcing couple resolve their issues and come to a mutually agreeable settlement. The mediator facilitates communication and helps the couple identify and address issues such as child custody and visitation, division of property and assets, and spousal support.

Mediation can be an alternative to the traditional adversarial process of divorce, which involves going to court and having a judge make decisions. Mediation can be less expensive, less time-consuming, and less stressful than a litigated divorce.

The mediator is not a judge and does not make decisions for the couple. Instead, the mediator helps the couple work together to reach an agreement that they both find acceptable. Once the couple has reached an agreement, it is usually put in writing and submitted to the court for approval.

Who gets to live in the house during the divorce process?

While some couples may decide to cohabitate during the divorce process, most choose to live separately. If there is no agreement on who gets to remain in the marital residence, one party can request “exclusive use and possession” of the house. If granted, the opposing spouse can no longer reside or enter the house without permission from the in-spouse or a court order.

When children are involved, it’s best to keep their environment as stable as possible. Therefore, if one parent has primary custodianship of the children, that parent would most likely receive exclusive use and possession of the house.

What is an order of protection in California?

An Order of Protection in California, also known as a restraining order, is a court order that provides protection from abuse, harassment, or violence to someone who has been threatened or has experienced abuse or violence from another person. The order is intended to prevent contact or communication between the parties involved and may also prohibit the abuser from coming near the person seeking protection.

In California, there are several types of restraining orders, including domestic violence restraining orders, elder or dependent adult abuse restraining orders, civil harassment restraining orders, workplace violence restraining orders, and school violence restraining orders. The type of restraining order that is appropriate will depend on the relationship between the parties involved and the specific circumstances of the case.

To obtain an order of protection in California, the person seeking protection must file a petition with the court and provide evidence of the abuse or harassment. The court will then hold a hearing to determine if an order of protection is necessary and what the terms of the order should be. If granted, the order is enforceable by law enforcement and violation of the order can result in criminal charges.

Is it possible for my ex to cover my attorney fees?

Family Code Section 2030 is the standard statute that divorce lawyers in California use for attorney fees. This statute allows the court to order one party to contribute towards the attorney fees of the other party based on the need for assistance and the ability of the other party to pay, taking into account the difference in their respective incomes.

Typically, a divorce lawyer will require a retainer fee upfront to begin working on the case. Subsequently, the lawyer will seek reimbursement of this fee from the other spouse. In certain cases where the lawyer thinks that the other party is likely to contribute towards attorney fees, they may accept a lower upfront retainer and establish a manageable payment plan for the client until the other party contributes.

What happens in divorce if I have a prenuptial agreement?

If you have a prenuptial agreement, the initial concern is to verify its validity and enforceability in a family court. It is possible for either you or your spouse to question the agreement’s legality. If the prenuptial agreement is unchallenged or deemed valid after being challenged, the divorce process will be significantly less complicated. Depending on the prenuptial agreement’s provisions, there may or may not be additional matters to resolve during the divorce.

When do child support payments end in California?

In California, the obligation to provide child support typically terminates when a child reaches 18 years of age and graduates from high school. However, if the child is still attending high school full-time and is unable to support themselves, the obligation concludes either when the child graduates or when they turn 19, whichever comes first. If you have questions about your child support agreement speak to one of our California family lawyers today!

How is child support determined in California?

The state of California uses a formula called the Guideline Formula to calculate child support. The formula is as follows: CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN)). The resulting amount will be for one child, and you will need to multiply it accordingly if you have multiple children.

K represents the portion of the parents’ total combined income that must be allocated toward child support. The calculation takes into account the parent’s income and the amount of time the higher-earning parent spends with the child, with higher income levels attracting stepped-up percentages.

HN stands for the high net, which refers to the net monthly disposable income of the higher-earning parent.

H% represents the estimated percentage of time that the higher-earning parent will have primary physical responsibility for the child or children, compared to the other parent. If the parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children, H% equals the average of the approximate percentages of time the higher-earning parent spends with each child.

TN refers to the total net monthly disposable income of both parents.

(Source: Cal. Fam. Code § 4055 (2022))

You can get an estimate of what your child support payments may look like by using our child support calculator or for a better idea speak to one of our experienced attorneys.

What if the other parent isn't working and has no income?

Parents who intentionally become unemployed or underemployed to avoid paying child support are frowned upon by courts. If such behavior is discovered, the court may impute income to the offending parent. This means the court will calculate child support based on the earning capacity of the parent, rather than the actual amount they earn. However, the court must first establish that the parent has the ability and opportunity to work before imputing income. This requires evidence that there are suitable jobs available for which the parent is qualified.

Can I go to jail for failing to pay child support in California?

The California family courts expect the paying parent to make child support payments once an order is in place. If a parent consistently fails to do so and does not attend the hearing or pay the back amount owed, a judge may issue a civil arrest warrant. Penalties for unpaid child support include fines up to $1,000 and a maximum of 5 days in jail.

For continued non-payment, additional fines and up to 12 months in jail may be imposed. If a parent continues to be in contempt of court, the consequences may escalate from a civil arrest warrant to a criminal warrant if the unpaid child support exceeds $2,500. In cases of $10,000 or more in unpaid child support, felony charges and up to 2 years in prison may be imposed. To avoid jail time, the courts usually try to collect unpaid child support through other means before resorting to penalties.

Do I have to pay any unpaid support after my child legally becomes an adult?

Child support arrears in California can be collected by the state until the full amount is paid off, and there is no time limit or statute of limitations on the collection of past-due child support payments.

Can the court garnish my wages for child support?

California law allows up to 65% of a parent’s disposable earnings to be deducted for child support payments. Wage garnishment can take up to 60% of the parent’s wages, but if they have missed payments for more than 12 weeks, a 5% penalty may be added. If the parent is supporting another child who is not covered by the wage garnishment order, the maximum amount that can be deducted is 50%. However, if the parent has missed over 12 weeks of payments, a 5% penalty may also be added, bringing the maximum to 55%.

Can I change the amount of child support I pay or receive?

It is possible to change the amount of child support you pay or receive in California. The process for modifying child support depends on the circumstances of the case.

Either parent can request a modification of child support by filing a motion with the court that issued the original child support order. In order for the court to consider a modification of child support, there must be a material change in circumstances since the original order was issued. Examples of material changes may include a significant change in income for one or both parents, a change in the child’s living arrangements, or a change in the child’s financial needs.

If both parents agree to a modification of child support, they can submit a written agreement to the court for approval. The court will review the agreement and, if it is found to be in the best interests of the child, will issue a new child support order.

If one parent contests the modification, a court hearing will be held to determine if a modification is appropriate. At the hearing, each parent will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting their position, and the court will make a determination based on the best interests of the child.

Speak with one of our experienced California family lawyers today if you have questions concerning a child support modification.

What is child support intended to be used for?

Child support, in addition to each parent’s contribution to daily expenses during their respective parenting time, is designed to cover the majority of the expenses incurred by the receiving parent in raising the child. These expenses include basic necessities such as food, clothing, toiletries, and other essentials. Significant and exceptional expenses are generally divided between the parties based on the proportion of their combined monthly incomes.

Child support is a frequent source of conflict between divorced parents. The parent who pays may feel that the money is not being utilized for the benefit of their children, while the parent who receives it may believe that it is insufficient to cover the actual costs of raising a child.

Typically, the parent who receives child support has discretion over how the money is spent. The paying parent may request that the court mandate the receiving parent to account for the expenditure of the funds, but such orders are infrequent, and the court may require the requesting parent to cover the cost of such accounting, even if it is granted.

Is child support taxed in California?

Typically, child support payments are not viewed as income for the recipient (also referred to as the payee) and are not eligible for a tax deduction for the payer of child support. To avoid child support payments is considered income for the recipient or tax-deductible for the payor in California, it’s crucial for court orders to specifically designate them as “child support.” Failing to do so could result in the payments not being considered child support for tax purposes. It’s worth noting that child support is different from the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which may still be claimed on federal income tax returns.

Can parents agree to their own child support order?

Parents have the option to create their own child support agreement, which can be submitted to the court for review and approval. The agreement should state that the parents are aware of their rights, have entered the agreement voluntarily and that it is in the best interest of the children. Additionally, the agreement should ensure that the children’s needs will be met and that neither parent is receiving or has applied for public assistance. Once the court confirms that the child support amount is in the child’s best interest, it will approve the agreement and establish a child support order.

What is alimony in California?

In California, alimony (also known as spousal support) is a legal obligation for one spouse to provide financial support to the other spouse after a divorce or legal separation. The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain a standard of living similar to that which they had during the marriage.

Is there a difference between alimony and spousal support?

In California, the terms “alimony” and “spousal support” are interchangeable and have the same meaning.

How does alimony work in California?

The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain a standard of living similar to that which they had during the marriage.

The amount of alimony in California is determined based on several factors, including:

1. The length of the marriage or domestic partnership

2. The standard of living during the marriage or domestic partnership

3. The needs of each spouse, including their earning capacity and the extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education, training, or career advancement

4. The ability of the supporting spouse to pay spousal support

There are two types of alimony in California: temporary and permanent. Temporary spousal support is ordered during the divorce or separation proceedings and is designed to provide financial assistance until a final settlement is reached. Permanent spousal support, on the other hand, is ordered after the final divorce decree is issued and can continue indefinitely or for a specific period of time.

Alimony payments can be made on a monthly basis or as a lump sum and can be modified or terminated in certain circumstances, such as a change in the financial situation of either spouse or the remarriage of the receiving spouse.

How is alimony calculated in California?

In California, alimony is calculated based on a number of factors, which are set forth in the state’s family code. The factors that are considered when determining the amount of spousal support include:

  1. The length of the marriage or domestic partnership
  2. The standard of living during the marriage or domestic partnership
  3. The age and health of both parties
  4. The earning capacity and needs of each spouse, including the extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education, training, or career advancement
  5. The ability of the supporting spouse to pay spousal support
  6. Any history of domestic violence between the parties
  7. The tax consequences of spousal support

Once these factors have been considered, the court will make a determination as to the amount of spousal support that is appropriate. In some cases, the court may use a guideline formula to calculate the amount of spousal support. The formula takes into account both parties’ income and certain deductions and is intended to provide a starting point for the determination of spousal support. Try our California spousal support calculator for an estimate of your alimony or contact our experienced California family lawyers for a more accurate idea.

How long does alimony last in California?

The duration of alimony in California depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the needs of the receiving spouse. In general, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of spousal support.

There are two types of alimony in California: temporary and permanent. Temporary spousal support is ordered during the divorce or separation proceedings and is designed to provide financial assistance until a final settlement is reached. Permanent spousal support, on the other hand, is ordered after the final divorce decree is issued and can continue indefinitely or for a specific period of time.

In cases where permanent spousal support is ordered, the duration of the support may be specified by the court or agreed upon by the parties in a written agreement. In some cases, the duration of spousal support may be indefinite, which means that it will continue until either spouse dies, the supported spouse remarries, or a court order terminates the support obligation.

However, California law does provide some general guidelines for the duration of spousal support. For marriages or domestic partnerships of less than 10 years, spousal support is generally ordered for a period of time that is equal to one-half of the length of the marriage or partnership. For marriages or domestic partnerships of 10 years or more, spousal support may be ordered for an indefinite period of time.

It is important to note that the duration of spousal support in California can be modified or terminated in certain circumstances, such as a change in the financial situation of either spouse, the remarriage of the receiving spouse, or the death of either spouse.

How does alimony affect my taxes?

In California, spousal support is eligible for tax deduction without the need for itemization. To claim the deduction, there must be a court order to pay support and you must have actually paid it. Additionally, the spouse receiving the support, they are obligated to report it as income and it will be subject to taxation.

What happens if my former spouse doesn't pay my alimony?

If your former spouse fails to pay court-ordered spousal support in California, there are several legal remedies available to you:

1. Seek help from the court: If your former spouse continues to refuse or neglect to pay, you can ask the court to enforce the spousal support order. You may file a motion to show cause or an enforcement request with the court.

2. Wage garnishment: California law allows for wage garnishment for spousal support payments. This means that the court can order your former spouse’s employer to deduct the support amount from their paycheck and send it directly to you.

3. Liens and levies: The court can also impose a lien on your former spouse’s property, including real estate and personal property. The court may also order a levy on your former spouse’s bank accounts or other assets.

4. Contempt of court: If your former spouse continues to refuse to pay despite the court’s orders, they may be held in contempt of court. This can result in fines or even imprisonment.

If you are facing an issue where your ex isn’t making alimony payments you should speak to one of our California divorce attorneys to review your options.

Does every California divorce include alimony?

There is a widespread belief that alimony is a mandatory component of divorce or separation, but this is not the case. In fact, only around 10-15% of divorces or separations result in spousal support being included in the final judgment or decree.

If I get a raise, does that mean I will have to pay more support?

The amount of spousal support is determined by the standard of living that you and your ex-spouse shared during your marriage. An increase in your income will not impact the amount of support that you are required to pay.

Will I stop receiving spousal maintenance if I remarry?

Yes, upon remarriage spousal maintenance will no longer be awarded to the spouse receiving the payments.

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