Can a Court Require a Deposit of Assets from a Parent to Secure Child Support Payments?

It is difficult being a child these days, and it is equally difficult being responsible for the care and maintenance of a child. The responsibility for the care and maintenance of children falls equally upon both of their parents, whether either of them have actual custody of those children or not. There are times when one or both parents neglect this responsibility, and in those cases, the courts will often be required to step in and order the neglectful parent to perform their parental duties.

California courts have many tools available to them to meet their responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the child. Either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support for their children. If necessary, the courts can get creative to ensure the obligation has been met. In specific circumstances, for a person who has been ordered to pay support who has not paid that support, the court can order the deposit and sale of assets. Cal. Fam. Code § 4610 et seq.

Under California law, if an individual who is responsible for paying child support does not do so for over 60 days, the court can order the deposit and eventual sale of that person’s assets to cover the cost of delinquent child support. This action of the court is one that can be taken if the parent is unable to show that the failure to pay support was not willful or in bad faith, and that the parent did not have the means to make the required child support payments. Cal. Fam. Code § 4611.

An order requiring the deposit and sale of assets is a serious measure for a court to take, but it is not done without the responsible parent having the opportunity to respond to the order and to take actions to convince the court not to enter the order. There are numerous grounds whereby an individual can convince the court not to enter such an order, such as illness, disability, or other circumstances that would make the order unjust, and there will always be a hearing prior to such a decision by the court. Cal. Fam. Code §§ 4610, 4612.

Having children is not a decision to take lightly, and doing so creates a responsibility that stays with you for your lifetime. If you or someone you know is faced with a failure to receive the child support to which you are entitled, a good attorney can help make sure the children you are responsible for are supported as they are entitled to. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

Can a Court Require Security for Child Support From a Parent?

Divorce is a complicated and confusing place to find oneself. Once a child is involved, the confusion and complication become magnified, and no longer is the court solely interested in finding an amicable solution that meets the needs of the spouses. Instead, the court becomes predominantly concerned with what is in the best interest of the child. In most divorce situations involving children, child support is an issue. It is the court’s responsibility to ensure that the child who is supposed to receive this financial support does in fact receive it.

In any type of legal action, there is always a chance that the person who ordered by a judge to do something will choose not to do it. This is no different in the case of child support. As much as we may like to believe that parents will act in the best interest of their children, that is not always the case. Because of this fact of human nature, California courts have the ability, upon a showing of good cause, to order that the parent who is required to pay child support post a security with the court. Cal. Fam. Code § 4012.

The amount of the security that can be required by the court is capped at the total support payment that the parent would pay over the next year, or an earlier time if the child support is scheduled to end in less than one year. These funds are held in an interest-bearing account and are available to the child if the parent who is required to pay fails to do so. Cal. Fam. Code § 4560.

Should the court-mandated child support not be paid, funds can be released from the account when payment is 10 days late, and the court will then require that the parent who is required to maintain the security account replace those funds. Cal. Fam. Code § 4570 et seq.

Once a court is involved in maintaining the best interest of a child, it will exercise the full extent of its ability to ensure that children are properly cared for and that the parents truly share the responsibility of having children. These requirements are designed to look after the best interest of the child, but they are not designed to be punitive in nature. For that reason, if a parent can prove undue financial hardship, the obligated parent may sometimes reduce the amount of money placed into the security fund. Cal. Fam. Code § 4565 et seq.

Divorce can be a messy place to find yourself, but you can rely on the California court system to do its best to ensure that the innocent bystanders – the children – continue to have the support they deserve from both parents.

If you want to learn more about the legal requirements for child support security and how they apply in your case, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We can help. Call us today to make an appointment: (415) 293-8314.

How Are Future Bonuses Handled in California Child Support Cases?

The end of a marriage is often more than just two adults deciding that their relationship is at an end. Often, instead, the end of a marriage is also the beginning of a new relationship between two adults as they learn to navigate the world tied to an ex-partner and as co-parents to their children. When a marriage ends and there are children involved, the question is no longer about how the relationship ends, but instead how the children are taken care of.

In a divorce with children, one of the court’s main concerns becomes the best interest of those children. The court is interested in ensuring that the children are properly supported, a responsibility that falls equally to both parents. The court has the ability to ensure this occurs by ordering payments in any amount necessary for the support, maintenance, and education of the children.

The support that the court orders will be based upon maintaining the same standard of living for the children, regardless of which of the parents are being assessed. In determining this standard, the appropriate amount will take into consideration all income of both of the parents, and it includes any bonuses that either spouse receives regularly.

One parent’s income may be irregular as it comes, in part, from bonuses or commissions. A parent cannot shield or hide a portion of his or her income from being used by claiming it is a bonus, especially if that bonus is a regular part of his or her annual income.

In fact, California Family Code § 4064 specifically states that the “court may adjust the child support order as appropriate to accommodate the seasonal or fluctuating income of either parent.” Often the court will make a percentage determination—ordering the parent to provide the child with a percentage of all future bonuses. This allows the court to take into account the inconsistent and prospective nature of such income. The courts will not allow a child to be disadvantaged simply because a parent’s income does not come on a regular schedule or amount.

If you or someone you know is facing divorce and have minor children in need of support, the help of an experienced family law attorney can make a hard and potentially confusing experience easier to navigate. If you’re in this position, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable California divorce attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger  will make sure you successfully navigate California child support law. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

How is Contempt of Court Used in California Divorce Cases?

All courts have an undeniable interest in ensuring that their orders and procedures are respected and followed. This holds true in California’s family courts, as well. Violations of a court’s order to do—or not to do—something, is known as contempt of court. In California divorce cases, contempt of court has special consequences. It may be enforced by the court on its own motion or can be brought to the court’s attention by the parties to an action.

The punishment for contempt of court in a California divorce case is specific. When an individual is found guilty of contempt of court, he or she may be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to 5 days, or both, per charge. If found guilty of contempt, the contemnor may additionally be ordered to pay the reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of the individual who initiated the contempt proceedings.

Some special provisions that apply to contempt of court in divorce proceedings include California Code of Civil Procedure § 1218.5(a), which reads as follows:

If the contempt alleged is for failure to pay child, family, or spousal support, each month for which payment has not been made in full may be alleged as a separate count of contempt and punishment imposed for each count proven.

Thus, pursuant to California law, there can be multiple counts of contempt charged for a repeated failure to pay child or spousal support in the Golden State. The statute of limitations for bringing such proceedings is three years from the date the payment is due. For the enforcement of any other order relating to family law matters, the statute of limitations is two years.

For each count of contempt, the punishment depends upon whether it is for the failure to pay an ordered support or for a violation of a provision of the divorce order. If there is a finding of contempt for failure to comply with a divorce order, the person who is found to be in contempt cannot then enforce the divorce decree against the other party, except as to the child, family, or spousal support.

In the case of contempt for a failure to pay court-ordered support, the punishment depends on whether it is a repeat occurrence. For the first finding of contempt, the court will order the violator to perform 120 hours of community service or spend up to 120 imprisoned. For the second offense, the penalty is community service and imprisonment for 120 hours each. For the third offense, the penalty is 240 hours of community service, 240 hours of imprisonment, and an administrative fee for the administration and supervision of punishment. These penalties, as noted above, can be cumulative, and added for each offence.

Contempt of court in California divorce cases is specific to the type of offense and whether it has occurred previously. If you or someone you know is involved in a divorce proceeding and there is a failure to follow the orders of the court, a contempt order is your next step for addressing this failure. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced in contempt issues in family court cases. Call today to see how we can help you: (415) 293-8314.

How Can Facebook Affect Your Divorce Case?

Facebook is used by billions of people worldwide, with over 1.94 billion active monthly Facebook users. Its use is ubiquitous. People enjoy Facebook with their morning coffee, to get past the mid-week hump, and to pass the time and share the fun on their Friday nights. And many people using Facebook forget that they are not always aware of who their audience might be.

Facebook can be a great source of information regarding a lawyer’s own client, as well as his or her opposing client. Many people post activities on Facebook that they want to show as fun—but that can be a serious pitfall in a divorce proceeding.

In addition, by checking a person’s Facebook page, a lawyer is sometimes able to determine the user’s location, which can be helpful if the person has been evading service of process.

Other potential uses include important information about a person’s leisure activities. If child custody or visitation is an issue—since the standard a court uses to make decisions about children is what is in the “best interest” of the child—pictures and posts that demonstrate a propensity for drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity can paint a picture that allows the court to protect the child, despite contradictory testimony. Likewise, if a person is claiming financial hardship, pictures showing a lavish vacation or shopping activity could be presented to contravene that person’s in-court statements.

Divorce cases can be challenging for everyone involved. This is especially true when one party (or the other) forgets about the often public nature of Facebook and other social media posts. Remember that Facebook absolutely can affect your divorce case, allowing a judge potential insight into issues you may wish to avoid in court.

If you need assistance in a family law proceeding, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

Pros and Cons of Default Judgment in Divorce

When a relationship does not stand the test of time, the people who once were a couple need to become individuals again. In California, this can sometimes be accomplished through the use of a default judgment for divorce. In a default judgment, one partner completes paperwork to have the court enter a divorce judgment and the other individual does not contest the divorce. In this type of default, the parties agree on the settlement provisions. As a result, the court is able to simply enter a default judgment.

A default judgment is sometimes the simplest and easiest method of having a divorce completed. It is usually less costly than litigation. However, there are both pros and cons to this method of ending a marriage.

Sometimes the people who are divorcing decide that having a default judgment is the method they want to use for divorcing, so they agree beforehand on how they want the divorce to be structured and bring that in for the entry of judgment. This allows them to have the ease of a default judgment and still ensure that their collective property is separated in the method they prefer.

However, there are many potential cons in using a default judgment in a divorce case, and using this method is not always appropriate. A default judgment should not be used if the parties are not in agreement about the distribution of the marital estate, if there is a situation of abuse of one partner by the other, or if the parties do not have a full understanding of the legal implications of the divorce. It is important for both parties to also understand that the party who is not initiating the divorce, also known as the respondent, is giving up his or her right to contest the court’s decision if no response is made.

Perhaps most important, however, is that failing to obtain the advice of an experienced California divorce attorney can result in giving up rights that a spouse may not even know he or she has, all in the name of “getting along.”

If you want to learn more about whether a default divorce might compromise your future, or that of your children, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We can help. Call us today to make an appointment: (415) 293-8314.

What Are Valid Reasons for a California Family Court to Deviate from the Child Support Guideline Amount?

According to Section 4057(a) of the California Family Code, child support is initially determined using a complicated formula that looks like this: CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN)). This formula takes into account several factors, include the parents’ income, the amount of the higher net earner’s net monthly disposable income, the parents’ time-share agreement, and the parents’ total combined monthly disposable income. By law, the result of applying this formula is “presumed to be the correct amount of child support to be ordered.”

However, there are certain special circumstances in which such stringent mechanical calculation of child support may neither be reasonable, or fair. These are special circumstances in which may a California family court deviate from the child support guideline amount. In fact, deviation is only allowed when permitted by law:

  • Both parties seem to have agreed to a different amount;
  • Selling the family home has been legally deferred and the home’s rental value is more than the mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes;
  • The parent charged with paying child support “has an extraordinarily high income” and the amount calculated far exceeds the amount that would be actually be required to raise the child;
  • A parent’s contributions to a child’s care are not commensurate with that parent’s custodial time with that child; and
  • Special circumstances exist relating to time-share or special medical needs.

In all these cases, the family law courts must look at admissible evidence that succeeds in making a case as to why the guideline amount is inappropriate or unjust. Even then, the court must record the reasons for its decision in the case record whenever it deviates from the statewide uniform guideline formula amount. This includes describing why deviating from the guidelines is in the best interest of the children.

Arguing that the child support guideline amount should (or should not) be overridden takes skill and deep legal knowledge. If you’re in this position, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable California divorce attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger  will make sure you successfully navigate California child support law. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

What Mandatory and Discretionary Add-Ons Are There for California Child Support?

Most of the time, a noncustodial parent is responsible for child support because daily child care and expenses are vested in the custodial parent. This, however, is not a hard-and-fast rule.

The determination of child support in California is based on a complex calculation that takes into account the parents’ incomes, the time spent by each parent with the child, the standard of living for the child, the custodial arrangements, and each parents’ tax deductions.

The state-wide formula is applied for determining child support in California. Courts and family law attorneys customarily use this method to arrive at an appropriate number to be paid as child support. However, sometimes additional benefits over and above the “base rule” are made. This is done by providing for what are known as mandatory and discretionary “add-ons.”

The additional mandatory add-ons under California Family Law Code § 4062 typically include child care costs related to training for employment skills or requiring education to secure employment, as well as all reasonable healthcare costs for the child that are not covered by insurance, such as co-pays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care, and orthodontic care.

Under the very same legislation, discretionary child support may also be granted, keeping in mind specific educational costs (such as those required to facilitate extra-curricular and recreational activities) and other special needs of the child, as well as travel expenses incurred during visitations.

Usually, both parents are responsible for sharing the mandatory and discretionary add-ons equally; however, in cases of a stark income gap between the two parents, the higher earning parent may be held responsible for greater obligations. This is calculated separately in accordance with Family Code § 4061(b).

There are rarely any changes made to the child support amount—not even when one of the parents re-marries.

Child support cases are not easy to understand and analyze. A trusted, experienced family law attorney can make a significant difference in how you deal with this intimately personal crisis.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced in child support matters. Call today to see how we can help you: (415) 293-8314.

What Deductions Are Made from Gross Income for Child Support Purposes?

Child support is a vital decision in family law matters. A court examines the income of both parents when determining child support payments.

Income considered will be each parent’s annual gross income; however, some items and expenses can be subtracted for the purpose of calculating child support. California Family Code § 4059 lists these possible deductions.

For instance, income tax liability is deducted from annual gross income. This does not mean that taxes withheld from a parent’s paycheck will be deducted. The income tax liability is the tax an individual is responsible for paying to the IRS or the state after completing his or her annual tax return filings.

Although income tax withheld from one’s paycheck is not deductible from annual gross income, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) withholdings are deducted.

Other work-related expenses may be deducted from annual gross income for the purpose of determining child support. When this happens, work-related expenses are reviewed to make sure that the expenses were truly necessary or required. Such deductions can include mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement benefits, and/or health insurance premiums (including health insurance premiums for any children that the parent is required to insure).

If a parent is responsible for a child or children of a previous relationship, any child support payments that are made on behalf of that child may be deducted from the parent’s annual gross income, as well. It is important to note that only payments actually made can be deducted. Child support payments may have been ordered but not actually paid—if this is the case, that amount will not be considered deductible from income.

In some cases, a parent can request a deduction for a hardship. If the court determines that a hardship is applicable, the approved calculated amount of the hardship is deducted from that parent’s annual gross income.

If you need assistance in a family law proceeding, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

What Is Included in Income for the Purpose of California Child Support?

The state of California takes into consideration the income of both parents when determining child support payments. Sources of income will vary from person to person.

Section 4058 of the California Family Code provides that annual gross income can come from a combination of “commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding.”

Other sources of income will include that from a business owned by the individual after subtracting the expenses of the business from the revenue. A court may also consider employee benefits or self-employment benefits as part of a parent’s annual gross income if those benefits come in exchange for—or at the expense of—potential income for the receipt of those benefits.

There is income that is not taken into consideration for the determination of child support, as well. Child support received to benefit children from a previous relationship is not considered income for determining support for the child(ren) of the current relationship. Other items that are not considered include public assistance benefits received based on need.

Sometimes, a parent will attempt to avoid being ordered to pay child support by quitting his or her job or taking a lower-paying position or an intentional pay cut. When a parent takes these steps to avoid paying child support, the court may take into consideration the income of that parent’s new spouse or even a new partner to whom the person is not married.

A court may also hold such a parent accountable by evaluating that parent’s income potential. The court can look at how much income that parent could have made. This is known as imputing income.

If you want to learn more about child support matters in California, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We can help. Call us today to make an appointment: (415) 293-8314.