Family Law Blog

What You Should Know About Child Custody

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Are you about to be embroiled in a child custody battle? Being granted custody of your child isn't a straightforward process, and it could play out in any number of ways depending on the decisions that you make. Here are some of the aspects surrounding child custody law that you should consider: 

Mutual agreement via Mediation

Keep in mind that spending any length of time in court is going to cost you. So it's always a good idea to attempt mediation and try to resolve the issue of custody with your former partner and his or her attorneys. However, it's also worth noting that these negotiations don't have to be formal. You and your former partner could meet at a coffee shop and have a calm, rational discussion about visitation rights, who the child should live with, child support, etc. If that fails, you could proceed to formal negotiations featuring attorneys from both sides and a licensed mediator. The mediator might be able to find points of reconciliation that weren't able to be reached prior to professional intervention. 

Child Custody Battles Outside of Marriage 

If the parents are unmarried, the mother will typically be awarded custody by the courts. While the law usually grants custody to the mother, the father still has the right to pursue visitation rights. The good news is that the lack of a marital bond means unpleasant legal entanglements such as child support or property disputes are rendered a non-issue.

Not the Parent?

In some cases, child custody disputes can arise between a relative who isn't the biological parent of the child and an absent parent. If this is your situation, you'll have to submit a "non-parent custody petition" to the courts, which requires details such as relationship to the child, reasons for the custody request, as well as the status of the parents. 

Please, contact us for more information. 

You Can Get Help Collecting Child Support

Friday, November 03, 2017

Custodial parents sometimes find it difficult to collect the child support they need to take care of their children, child support that was court ordered. Help is available.

Child support payments are not voluntary. They are ordered by a court during child custody hearings. These cases may be part of a divorce, separation, or a paternity determination. Child support is usually paid by income withholding from employment. If child support is in arrears or unpaid, additional measures can be imposed to collect it.

Passports can be denied or seized if more than $2500 in unpaid support is owed. 

Federal and state income tax refunds may be offset by the child support debt.

Child support orders cross state lines. States communicate with one another about scofflaws of child support. Orders are enforceable across state lines.

Child support payments that are in arrears are often reported to credit bureaus.

States can fail to renew drivers or business licenses for those in arrears on child support. Their licenses can also be suspended.

Unemployment, Social Security, and retirement payments can be garnished. Military pay can also be garnished. Liens can be placed on property held by the person owing back child support.

Some payments are not subject to garnishment. These include Veterans disability payments, some Social Security payments such as Supplemental Security Income(SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) as well as student loans.

Payments in arrears may or may not be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. There are different circumstances regarding debts under bankruptcy laws. Child support payments are not usually forgiven. It is a valid debt.

Modification of child support orders is possible if circumstances change. Either a custodial or non-custodial parent can ask the court for a modification. Significant changes in the financial situation for either parent may qualify for a modification, either to increase or decrease support payments.

Contact our firm for any issues regarding paying or collecting child support. We are here to help.

Do You Have the Right to Parenting Time?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Once referred to as visitation, parenting time is the time a parent spends with a child after the parents have separated. While parenting time doesn’t matter if you have been named the custodial parent, typically it is used to describe the time the noncustodial parent spends with their child. However, do you actually have a right to parenting time?

Parenting time is not a right, so you do not automatically have the right to see your child if you are not the custodial parent. The court decides if parenting time is in the best interests of the child, but will typically grant at least some parenting time unless the noncustodial parent has a history of harm or abuse to the child or others.

Once parenting time has been granted, unless abuse starts to show itself, it is difficult to have parenting time taken away. Even if the noncustodial parent fails to pay child support, the court cannot take away your parenting time, but you may face other consequences.

If you are trying to get the maximum amount of parenting time with your child, one of the main things that the court will look at is your history with the child. It is best to write down what sort of relationship you have had, how much time you previously spent with the child, and how much of that time included overnights.

If you are in the process of a separation and are trying to get custody or parenting time with your child in the Los Angeles area, contact a Los Angeles child support lawyer today.

Obama Administration Family Law Changes Affect Child Support

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Many divorced parents who have child support obligations may have found themselves facing difficulties making their payments. As a result, they may have fallen behind on their support and ended up incarcerated as an outcome. This type of family law situation is not uncommon, and it can often lead to a vicious cycle.

When many parents are in jail, they lack the ability to effectively make their payments, which only leads to their falling further behind. In turn, after their releases, they may return home only to find themselves potentially on their way to being locked up again due to having been unable to make their support payments regularly while incarcerated.

According to recent reports, in order to address this issue, President Obama's administration has made changes to child support rules that may help parents in such a predicament. These rules would supersede state law and require that states examine the true circumstances of each case when it comes to potentially allowing for support modifications. In many cases, incarceration is considered "voluntary unemployment," and this classification makes it nearly impossible for individuals to pursue more manageable support amounts while in jail. 

By having incarceration not deemed voluntary unemployment, individuals may be able to seek a lower support payments. As a result, they may be better able to make their payments while in jail or at least have the opportunity to not fall as far behind.

These child support rule changes could affect many California parents who have found themselves facing such predicaments. Individuals who are interested in how these rules could potentially affect their circumstances or who would like more information on child support modifications in general may wish to consult with experienced Beverly Hills family law attorney

Can a Divorce Include a Clause Negating Child Support Obligations?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Is it possible, at the time of the divorce, to include a clause in the divorce contract whereas one parent is absolved, with the agreement and consent of the other parent, of child support obligations?

The first thing to know is that child support is something obligated by law -- parents must support their children, even if they are not currently married to the other parent. Child support obligations do not stem from divorce contracts and agreements.

This law is in place to ensure that children are adequately taken care of. It also is in the government’s best interests not to have too many welfare recipients.

Usually, clauses negating child support obligations will not be recognized by the courts. Unless you are able to prove that this clause is, in fact, in the child’s best interests, it will generally have no legal standing.

It goes even further. If there was a clause under which one parent paid a lump sum for the child’s needs, instead of having to pay monthly payments, and the money was squandered by the other parent who has custody of the child and the child now needs financial assistance, the first parent may have to start paying again for child support. This is because child support obligations are in place to benefit the child, and a parent's self-interest has no bearing on the issue, unless the parent is financially unable to support the child.

Child support laws are extremely complex. If you are considering a clause in your divorce contract concerning child support, it is best to contact a lawyer for legal help.

How Much Do You Know About Child Support?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Child support is always a hot topic, but this hot topic comes with many myths and misconceptions. Many people believe those things to be true, when in fact, many of them are very inaccurate.

It does not matter if you receive child support payments or if you make child support payments, you will certainly need to gather all the facts. When you have a better understanding of child support, you will be able to make the best decisions concerning your child.

Here are some of the myths about child support that you have probably heard.

Child Support Only Has To Be Paid Until The Child Is 18

This used to be accurate, but that is no longer the case. Children who are 18 years of age and are still enrolled in a high school may still receive child support payments. If a child has a disability that holds him or her back from supporting himself or herself, child support payments can still be received for longer than 18 years.

Back Child Support Will Not Be Collected Once The Child Turns 18

If the parent paying child support still owes payments after the child has turned 18, the now adult can still collect payments.

The Child Support Payments Have To Be Spent On The Child

Many parents who pay child support have concerns with how the money is being spent. Child support payments can be used for a variety of things that are related to the child the payments are intended for. The payments can be spent on housing, utilities, clothing, food, school, etc. The parent on the receiving end is not required to show how the payments are being spent.

If I Quit My Job, I Will Not Have To Pay

If you choose to be unemployed, the court will not have any sympathy for you. If you quit your job so you can avoid paying child support, you will definitely pay for it in the end.

It is important that both sides understand child support so everyone can make the best decisions. If you have questions or if you need advice regarding child support, contact us today.

Finding Experienced Child Support Counsel in Southern California

Thursday, April 28, 2016

When children are involved in a separation or divorce, the complications can become overwhelming in addition to the emotional turmoil. During this difficult period, important decisions will be concluded to determine important lasting future arrangements. This is why it's vital to find experienced child support counsel during this time, to ensure fair results.

Child support amounts are determined by the courts from a myriad of factors, which an experienced law firm can expertly negotiate on your behalf. Such factors may include:

  • Earning ability of both parents

  • If parents have other children from previous relationships

  • Ages and needs of children

  • Time children spend with each parent

  • Standard of living

These and more factors are examined, in order to assess the child support owed by one or both spouses in California. As a law firm based in Beverly Hills, California, Jamra and Jamra L.L.P. understands how child support payments are determined in a California divorce.

Experience and Expertise

Jamra and Jamra L.L.P., exclusively practices family law, thus provides expertise and experience in this specific area of law. By focusing on family law only, we offer our clients the focus and understanding around child support needed to expertly manage their cases. During this difficult period of time, we have the ability to help clients in every aspect concerning child support in California. Clients may have questions about:

  • What if parents are unmarried?

  • How can child support be modified after a settlement?

  • What to do if child support payments haven't been received?

  • What impact does a child's special needs have on child support decisions?

  • How are child support payments determined in a California Divorce?

Jamra and Jamra has been helping clients in Southern California for over a decade answer these questions and more about child support. Our experience and expertise in family law provides comforting counsel for parents during the difficult time of divorce or separation.

Wise Choices for Long-Term Benefits

Finding a law firm to counsel and fight on your behalf concerning child support, provides the long-term benefits a fair decision brings. Parents not knowing their rights can become a victim of a poor decision, resulting in long-term anguish and pain.

Hiring Jamra and Jamra as your Beverly Hills family law attorneys is a wise decision, and will bring long-term benefits by ensuring fairness in your child support case. For a free consultation, please contact us today.

There are Options if You're Having a Difficult Time Making Your Child Support Payments

Friday, April 08, 2016

A non-custodial parent is usually ordered to make child support payments to the custodial parent, unless a previous court-approved arrangement was made. Child support provides financial help to the custodial parent to help care for the child. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult for the non-custodial parent to keep up with his own finances. If you find yourself in this situation and wonder what you can do, we’ll explain your options.

Documentation and Proof

If you’re truly in a position where you cannot financially afford your court-mandated child support payments, gather all the supporting documentation and proof you can. You’ll need paycheck stubs to prove your income, tax return documents to show the court you have no other income to rely on, and proof of other bills. Perhaps you found yourself in a medical situation and had unexpected bills. Gather as much information as possible to backup your claim.

File Your Petition Promptly

If you are unable to pay and feel that you’ll soon be falling behind on your payments, take the necessary steps to get the award amount changed. Any support that you don’t pay, even with a financial hardship situation, will go into arrears, which could hurt you even more. If you can get the custodial parent to agree to a modification of the support without the need for court intervention, you should get the change in writing and still ask the judge to approve the order. This way you’ll have proof in the event the custodial parent has a change of heart and decides to fight the lower payments.

If you’re currently struggling to pay your child support, contact us today. We'll explain what your options are and assist you in filing the proper modification paperwork.

An Overview on What Child Support Covers

Thursday, February 25, 2016

If you are in the process of working through a child support case, you may wonder exactly what child support payments cover. The California Department of Child Support Services states that child support payments cover a parent's contributions to a child's living and medical expenses. A court ruling determines the amount of child support a parent pays. The court can rule that either parent or both parents are required to provide the child support payments, essentially stating that both parents are legally mandated to contribute to the financial well-being of their child.

Child support is intended to cover a range of expenses such as shelter, food, clothing and medical insurance. Some other expenses, such as medical expenses not covered by insurance, education expenses, and expenses related to extracurricular activities, are generally not covered in child support payments unless a specific settlement agreement outlines these costs, or a court rules otherwise. Parents may also be required to spend additional monies during their time with a child because the child support payments are only an estimate of what is needed to cover the basic living expenses and needs.

Child support is paid to either parent, but it usually common for the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the parent who has physical custody of the child. In the event the parents have joint custody, the parent with the higher income may be required to pay child support to the parent whose income is lower.

If you are going through a child support case and have questions, contact us. We can sit down with you and go over your own personal circumstance and advise you accordingly. 

Setting Child Support Rates With Your Former Spouse

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Even the most civil, patient divorcees can find a stumbling block when child support comes up. Until the last minor child in the household turns eighteen, it's going to be necessary for the non-custodial spouse to write a check to the other one. There are a lot of other expenses related to the divorce, and this recurring necessity can feel like a massive headache for the spouse who has to provide it. If you're hoping to come to a civil agreement over child support, however, there are several things to keep in mind.

You're taking care of your child, not your former spouse.

 Children are expensive--and it's not just the things that are specifically "for them" that add up. A family with children often needs a bigger car, a bigger house with more bedrooms, and uses greater energy expenses than one that doesn't have children. When you write this check, you aren't paying for your former spouse to live the same lifestyle they always have. You're paying for your child to have everything they need.

Keep in mind how much time you will (or won't) be spending with your children.

 The arrangements you make concerning your child's physical custody should already have been made with the child's best interests in mind. Many courts will award higher support to a parent who has the child more often--and there's a good reason for that! The more often they have the child, the more often the custodial parent will be the one paying for meals, transportation fees, and the basic needs of the child.

Be prepared for your child to continue to ask you for things above and beyond that payment.

 Even though you're writing a child support check every month, your child will still have needs. From a new pair of tennis shoes to help paying for a dance ticket, kids want things--and they don't care that you're already paying plenty to their other parent. Set aside money in your budget that goes beyond child support so that you can continue to offer your child the things they need. Remember, it's not about sticking it to your former spouse. It's about ensuring that your child is still secure and that their needs are provided.

Ready to start drawing up a child support agreement following your divorce? Contact us today for more information.