The purpose of child support is to ensure that a child’s financial necessities are taken care of and that the child’s standard of living stays consistent with their pre-divorce care. California judges follow statutory guidelines when determining child support. These guidelines set forth a complex set of factors that take into account the total income of each parent, certain deductible expenses, as well as how much time the child spends with each parent. A parent can only be sure the child support award is proper when they have a clear understanding of these factors and how they apply to their individual situation.
Income and expenses can vary widely in the Santa Rosa area and what can properly be included in the child support calculations is quite often a gray area. An experienced family law attorney knows what local judges look for and can help a parent present their financial situation in the way that will be most helpful to them in determining a sufficient award.
Sometimes, a child support award isn’t appropriate for a family’s financial situation. A child support award is modifiable when there’s been a change in circumstances, such as a change in jobs by one of the parents or one of the parents is experiencing financial difficulty or maybe increased medical expenses for the child. Other times it’s discovered that an award was improperly determined due to a parent not providing an accurate picture of their finances to the court. In these circumstances, it’s usually helpful to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney to determine if there’s a basis for modifying the award.
One of the benefits of marriage is that both spouses can achieve a higher standard of living than they could have on their own. Often, this is accomplished by placing one spouse’s career first, while the other spouse forgoes career opportunities to allow the family to move as required by the higher paid spouse’s job or to stay home to take care of the children. Spousal support attempts to balance out the parties respective incomes and to work toward the long term objective of both parties becoming self sufficient.
Temporary Spousal Support
Temporary spouasl support is designed to support a spouse who was unemployed or earning significantly less during the marriage. It can be petitioned for upon filing for divorce and is granted until a final support determination is made. Because the goal is to temporarily provide for a spouse’s basic needs, Sonoma County courts generally apply a formula that creates a sharing of the income, until the divorce proceedings are nearing an ed. As with child support, determining the relevant income and expenses that go into the formula, is the key to a proper award and utilizing an experienced attorney for this process if invaluable.
Permanent support is designed to more accurately reflect the economic situations of the spouses and may be permanent, but is more often for a set period of time. Absent prior agreements by the spouses, the court takes into account a number of factors including the length of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed by the spouses, the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, as well as each spouse’s ability to support themselves after the divorce. As with child support, spousal support is usually modifiable. However, a modification also requires a change in circumstances, which must be considered before the change can occur. Spousal support is often one of the most hotly contested issues of a divorce and using an attorney to help plan out the long term use or termination of such support, including how to focus on becoming self sufficient, gathering and properly presenting financial information, valuing non-economic contributions and presenting a strong case to the court is highly recommended to help ensure a fair award.
If you need a lawyer to handle your child support case in Santa Rosa, Windsor, or Petaluma in Sonoma County, contact Brian Lanz at The Family Law Office today – (707) 523-4419.