Child Support And Spousal Support Q&A

To discuss your concerns about child support or spousal support with an attorney, please call Viola Law Firm in San Mateo at 650-532-9389 or use our online contact form. The following are answers to questions our lawyers commonly receive.

I lost my job. Can I ask for more child support?
A child support order or agreement may be modified when either parties' circumstances change. For example, the amount may be modified if either parent's financial situation changes or the amount of time the child(ren) spend(s) with each parent changes, or any other unexpected changes occur. The court can modify the amount or parents may agree on a change as long as their agreement is consistent with the legal guidelines and the modification is in the best interests of the child(ren).

How long do I have to pay my ex-spouse?
Parents must provide for their children until each child reaches the age of 19 or is 18 and is no longer attending high school, whichever is earlier. Child support also ends upon the death of the child, if the child goes on active duty in the armed forces, if the child marries or if the child becomes legally emancipated.

What is the difference between temporary and permanent spousal support?
Temporary spousal support is generally calculated using a guideline formula that has been established by the state of California. This formula is not binding. The court may modify the guideline calculation based on unusual circumstances. When calculating temporary spousal support, the objective of the court is to order an amount that allows the parties to maintain their pre-separation standard of living.

The court takes into consideration at least 14 factors when ordering permanent spousal support. The purpose of permanent spousal support is to provide assistance to one party based on the marital standard of living and the circumstances that exist after the dissolution is completed and all of the marital assets and debts have been divided.

For purposes of calculating the amount I have to pay, how is my income determined if I am self-employed?
A court's determination of self-employment income is complicated. The court will evaluate a variety of factors in determining a party's available income. The type of business and form of payment, among other factors, may be examined during this process.

How does the court calculate the amount I must pay if I am disabled or unemployed?
When calculating the amount, the court examines all monthly income. If a party receives disability payments or unemployment benefits, the required amount will be calculated by including those payments. Likewise, if a parent is only partially disabled yet unemployed, the court may impute income for the purpose of making a support order.

If I spend more time with my child, does my child support obligation increase or decrease?
It depends. Child support is calculated based on a party's income and the amount of time he or she spends with the child(ren). Generally, the more time a party spends with the child(ren), the less child support he or she is obligated to pay under the California guideline. This decrease in the amount occurs because parents provide financial help while their children are in their care. When one parent earns significantly more than the other, an increase in visitation time may or may not decrease the support obligation.

Is the income of my new spouse considered when calculating support?
No. Although the court may consider new spouse income for the effect it has on your taxable income, new spouse income will not be considered as income to the person required to pay or receiving the benefit.