Category Archives: Child Support

Financial Tips for Men Going Through a Divorce

Financial Tips for Men Going Through a Divorce

In a previous blog, we talked about finances for women going through a divorce. Now, it’s the men’s turn. The divorce experience is as different for men and women as, well, men and women. Nowhere is that more apparent than in family finances. Even though men tend to fare better financially than women post-divorce, it is still important to consider some financial tips for men who are going through a divorce.

Learn Everything You Can About Your Finances

It may be difficult to negotiate a reasonable divorce settlement if you don’t know what’s involved. What bank accounts do you and your spouse have? How much debt do you have? Did you or your wife take the leading role in financial decisions. Make sure you know where you stand.

Make an Inventory of All Property

At this point, don’t worry about whether it is community property or separate property. Account for cash, bank accounts, real estate, personal property, and other assets. Prepare a list that is as complete as possible. Then put it in a safe place.

Explore Spousal Support Options

Some men resist paying spousal support. The reasons vary. Sometimes the husband took a greater role in financially supporting the family while the wife focused on home and children. Others may be worried they won’t have enough money to live on.

Some men resist receiving spousal support. In divorce cases where the wife makes more money than the husband, or where the husband takes an increased child custody role, the wife may pay spousal support to the husband.

Prepare for Child Support

Whether you will pay and how much depends on a number of factors. The judge hearing your divorce case will enter an order for one or both parents to provide a certain amount to cover a child’s living expenses.

Make sure you provide complete and accurate financial disclosures. The court will consider both parents’ net disposable income when deciding on child support.

Hold Off on Impulse Buying

Depression or even a sense of freedom sends some men over the financial deep end. This may not be the best time to buy a boat, go to Vegas, or move cross country. If possible, wait until after the divorce is final before making any big decisions.

Divorce is Hard

An experienced California divorce attorney can help you achieve the best outcome possible. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.
How to Get Temporary Spousal Support or Child Support

How to Get Temporary Spousal Support or Child Support

Often a party to a divorce may be eligible for temporary spousal support, temporary child support, or both. Calculating the amounts due can be a complicated process. Though this is not a comprehensive list, courts may consider some of these factors when calculating support:

  • Earning capacity, including employability and ability to work without harming dependent children;
  • Future earning capacity of a party who chose caring for family over pursuing a career,
  • Contributions made by one spouse toward the education or training of the other,
  • Ability to pay spousal support while maintaining a standard of living,
  • Community and separate obligations and assets,
  • Length of marriage,
  • Age and health of each spouse,
  • Domestic violence claims,
  • Tax consequences to the parties,
  • Criminal convictions, and
  • Any other factors the court considers to be important.

One thing to remember is that temporary spousal support and child support are not granted automatically. You have to ask for them.

Applying for Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support can be requested if you have an open case for divorce, legal separation, or a domestic violence restraining order. Your attorney can help you complete and file the following forms to request temporary spousal support or child support:

  • Request for Order, and
  • Income and Expense Declaration.

After filing your papers, you will have someone else serve a copy on your spouse, along with two other documents:

  • Responsive Declaration to Request for Order, and
  • Income and Expense Declaration.

Then you and your attorney will file a document stating that your spouse was served. At the hearing, the judge will sign an order stating whether you get temporary spousal support and how much.

Applying for Temporary Child Support

You must have opened one of the following cases to request temporary child support:

  • If married or a registered domestic partner – a divorce, legal separation, annulment, domestic violence restraining order, petition for custody, or local child support agency case.
  • If not married or a domestic partner –a parentage (paternity) case, domestic violence restraining order, petition for custody and support of minor children, local child support agency case.

This process is similar to requesting temporary spousal support. However, make sure you serve copies with the local child support agency if they are involved.

As with spousal support, the judge enters a court order. After the hearing, the process is slightly different. You’ll need to prepare a Notice of Rights and Responsibilities – Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures. Each parent will also complete a Child Support Case Registry Form

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone.

Navigating divorce court can be distressing. We’re here to help. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Our new Beverly Hills office is opening soon.

FAQs About Parenting Plans

FAQs About Parenting Plans

California courts are strongly “pro-child.” Typically, decisions are based on the best interests of any children involved in a divorce or legal separation. Let’s look at a few questions frequently asked about parenting plans.

What is a parenting plan?

When a divorcing couple have children, they need to agree on how to care for them. Also called a custody and visitation agreement, the parenting plan sets out how physical and legal custody will be handled.

To avoid misunderstandings, a parenting plan should include specific provisions about each parent’s responsibilities and obligations. For example, a plan might state who will handle:

  • Health care and medical treatments,
  • School, educational, and extracurricular activities,
  • Exchanging the children after a visit,
  • Parenting styles,
  • Child care; and
  • Travel and relocation.

Courts look for a plan that provides the best possible solution for the children.

What if parents can’t agree on a parenting plan?

The first step is mediation. Both parents work on sample plans with their attorneys, then present their proposed parenting plans to the mediator. Although mediation is not legally binding, mediators often facilitate agreements between disputing parents.

However, sometimes mediation fails. If so, the couple schedule a hearing where their parenting plans can be presented for the judge’s consideration. The court renders a decision, sometimes with the help of independent counselors or the mediator.

What happens after we sign the parenting plan?

When parents are able to agree, then they simply submit their parenting plan to the court. Unless the judge sees something wrong with the plan – something that is not in the best interests of the children – the plan usually is approved.

Our parenting plan was approved. What now?

Follow the parenting plan. If you find that sections are not working, talk to your attorney about adjustments.

Any of the following behaviors may violate the terms of your parenting plan:

  • Trying to turn your child against his or her other parent,
  • Being late when it is time to return your child after visitation,
  • Refusing to allow visitation at all, or
  • Refusing to handle educational or healthcare decisions as agreed.

When you violate your parenting plan, you are violating a court order. A judge may hold you in contempt of court. The consequences could be as simple as attending a parenting class or as severe as jail time.

Final Thoughts

The driving principle behind a parent plan is to act in the best interests of the child. Make sure your parenting plan is right for your children.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call us at 415-293-8314 to talk about your divorce. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. We are opening a Beverly Hills office soon.

How to Help Your Kids Thrive During a Divorce

How to Help Your Kids Thrive During a Divorce

Children feel a whole range of emotions during a divorce. They may be too young or too damaged to express and deal with those emotions, though. There are ways, however, that you and your ex-spouse can help your kids thrive, even in the middle of a divorce proceeding.

Talk to your children … and let them know they can talk to you.

Reassurance is important. Tell them the divorce is not their fault and that they are still loved. Since communication is a two-way street, make sure they know they can talk to you about anything, any time.

Don’t badmouth the other adults in their young lives.

You may have some pretty strong feelings about your child’s other parent right now. Those hard feelings may extend to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even family friends. Try hard to keep bad thoughts to yourself or only vent to another adult when your children are not around. Letting off steam might help you feel better, but it won’t help your children cope.

Coordinate with their other parent.

Parents who are divorcing need to complete a written agreement called a parenting plan. Use this opportunity to calmly coordinate rules, discipline, school events, holiday and other things your children need to feel safe, loved, and protected.

Don’t interfere with scheduled visitation.

Punishing your children because you’re mad at your ex is never a good idea. The only reason to withhold visitation is if you think your child is being endangered. Even then, you need to alert your attorney or the court that there’s a problem.

Watch for warning signs.

Children deal with stress in different ways. Watch for any indication that your son or daughter is not handling the divorce well. Unchecked anxiety, anger, depression, and the like can lead to long-term damage. If your child is behaving oddly, losing interest in activities, or their grades are slipping, seek help for them.

Keep Their Best Interests in Mind.

Divorce is hard on everyone involved. Even though you’re hurting and stressed out right now, remember that your children have needs, too.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience with divorce and child custody matters. In fact, Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist. Please feel free to call us at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Cost, including San Francisco, Marin County, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
My Husband Got Custody of Our Kids. Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

My Husband Got Custody of Our Kids. Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

Some of the most difficult and heart-wrenching decisions to make during a divorce involve children. Who will provide a home for the kids and money to care for them? Regardless of where the kids live, both parents are expected to be financially responsible for their children. This expectation may lead some people to question why they have to pay child support if the other parent has physical custody. 

California courts require every parent to be financially responsible for their children.

Child support is the law, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to calculate. Courts will consider several factors when calculating who should pay child support:

  • Both parents’ financial circumstances,
  • The children’s needs,
  • Whether additional support is needed for special expenses, child care costs, etc. and
  • The amount of time each parent has physical responsibility for the children.

Custody arrangement can make a difference.

“Time-share” – the amount of time the parent spends with the children – typically takes three forms:

  • One parent spends more time caring for children. The other parent usually pays child support. Occasionally, though, there’s a great discrepancy between the parents’ income. Generally, the parent with the greater income will pay child support to the parent with lower income. This scenario can be tricky. It is best to consult a family law attorney.
  • Parents spend about the same amount of time with the kids. The parent with the higher income may pay some child support to the other parent.
  • Parents of multiple children ‘split’ up the children. For example, in a family with two children, one child lives with mom and one child lives with dad. Child support may be paid depending on the parents’ income or special needs.

What’s best for the children?

It really comes down to taking care of the children’s needs, regardless of their address. Maybe you have questions about child support or are considering separate or divorce. Give us a call at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Cost, including San Francisco, Marin County, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Health Insurance and Child Support in California

The requirement to provide child support in California does not extend only to the requirement to provide financial support for the child. Pursuant to federal law, California has the additional requirement that health insurance coverage be provided as an additional form of support for all children.

The requirements that exist in the world of court-ordered child support are very specific and detailed. The state has become involved in maintaining the well-being of the child, and the state will ensure that the people responsible for that child – the parents – do so in a fair and comprehensive fashion. To that end, federal law mandates that states develop child support guidelines that apply in all cases and that clearly cover a child’s needs. The guidelines require support based upon the financial status of the parents, both custodial and non-custodial. 45 C.F.R. § 302.56.

A child support order from the court has numerous elements that may be specifically included as additional costs, such as child care costs related to employment, reasonable healthcare costs, educational or special needs of the child, and visitation expenses. The need to provide for healthcare costs is important for the proper care of a child.

Because both parents share an equal responsibility for providing care of their child, both parents share an equal responsibility for providing health care for a child. This means that both parents are responsible for their proportional share of costs for medical services, including emergency medical services. The costs for those services must be reimbursed to the parent who covered the expenses. Cal. Fam. Code § 3750 et seq.

The health care that must be provided for the child may be self-purchased or provided by a parent’s employer. If the insurance is obtained through the parent’s employer, that employer may not place restrictions on the child’s coverage such as the residency of the child, the marital status of the child’s parents, or the child’s dependency status on the parent’s tax returns. Cal. Fam. Code § 3750 et seq. The coverage obtained must include dental and vision services as well as medical coverage.

The proper care and responsibility for a child goes beyond simply providing shelter and food. For a child to grow into a healthy adult, he or she needs proper medical, dental, and vision care.

If you have questions about the law on child health care in California, contact an attorney who has deep experience in family law in the Golden state. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have the experience you need. Call today to see how we 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.

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.