What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support in California?

child support

In California, both parents are legally obligated to support their children financially. The amount of support each parent contributes is determined by a child support order issued by the court. Failing to make these required payments can result in serious consequences.

Along with the legal ramifications, failing to pay child support can affect the children involved, the custodial parent, and even the delinquent parent. This article will explore the consequences of failing to pay child support in California.

Child Support in California

When parents are divorced or unmarried in California, the parent with primary custody of the children typically receives child support payments from the other parent. Child support payments are intended to cover expenses for the child, such as:

  • Food, clothing, housing, and other basic needs
  • Education
  • Medical
  • Other reasonable expenses

The court will issue a child support order that includes a schedule of payments. Child support payments should be paid for the specified amount on the dates listed in the order. Failure to do so could result in negative consequences.

Warrants for Failing to Pay Child Support

If a parent fails to make one or more child support payments, the court could issue a warrant for their arrest. The warrant can be civil or criminal.

  • Civil warrants are issued when a parent fails to comply with a child support order. Failure to pay child support is considered contempt of court. Civil warrants can result in the parent being fined or sentenced to less than a year in jail, sometimes both.
  • Criminal warrants are issued when child support payments haven’t been made for an extended period and the parent is significantly behind in support payments. A criminal warrant can be issued regardless of where the parent resides in the U.S. Criminal warrants can result in fines, a year or more in jail, and sometimes both.

Other Consequences for Failing to Pay Child Support in California

Along with a warrant being issued, there are other legal consequences for failing to make timely child support payments in California. Here are some other consequences non-compliant parents may face.

  • Wage GarnishmentsThe Family Support Act of 1988 allows for the garnishment of wages of the non-compliant parent.
  • Health Insurance — If the noncustodial parent is responsible for paying health insurance for their children, the amount they owe for insurance may be deducted from their wages.
  • Property Lien — Liens can be placed on the noncustodial parent’s home, property, bank accounts, or retirement accounts.
  • Denied Tax Refund — If back child support is owed, the amount the non-compliant parent would have received as a tax refund will be used to catch up on their child support payments.
  • Driver’s License Suspension — A parent behind on child support payments faces a driver’s license suspension. To have their license reinstated, they must set up a payment plan.
  • Boating and Hunting License Suspension — If these licenses are lost, they will be reinstated without a suitable payment plan.
  • Professional License Suspension — When this occurs, it can make it even more difficult for the parent to make child support payments consistently.
  • Passport Revocation—A parent who owes child support may try to flee the country to avoid paying. The government can legally revoke their passport. This can also negatively affect their immigration status.
  • Credit Score Implications — When you fail to pay child support, the child support agency can report this to the credit bureaus. This can negatively affect your credit score, making it difficult to obtain credit.

Child Support Order Modifications

Circumstances change, but failing to make court-ordered support payments isn’t the best approach if you struggle to make child support payments. Instead, you can petition the court for a modification. However, it’s essential to understand that the court doesn’t have to rule in your favor.

Typically, the court will only order a modification once qualifying circumstances exist. Some of these circumstances include:

  • Job loss
  • Disability
  • A significant decrease (or increase) in income
  • A new child, you have to support
  • Changes in physical custody

The only way to avoid presenting a material change in circumstances is if you and the custodial parent agree to modify the child support order. The other way to avoid having to show a change in circumstances is if the amount of your support order is below the state guidelines amount.

Not Receiving the Child Support Payments Owed to You? Azemika & Azemika Can Help

Failing to pay child support not only has legal penalties but also affects your children. Parents must prioritize their children’s welfare and honor their financial responsibilities. By fulfilling child support obligations, you can ensure that you uphold the law and contribute to their family’s stability, resilience, and success.

At Azemika & Azemika, our experienced partners understand the complexities of California’s child support laws and are dedicated to advocating for the rights of custodial parents. We will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the financial support you and your children are entitled to.

If you are still waiting to receive the child support payments owed to you, we can help. Contact us today for a consultation.

Child Support in California: How Long Am I Required to Pay?

child support

Child support is crucial in ensuring the financial well-being of children whose parents have separated or divorced. In California, as in many other states, child support obligations are established to provide for the child’s basic needs, including housing, food, clothing, education, and medical care. However, child support is not meant to be a permanent arrangement, and there are specific circumstances under which it can end.

In this article, we will explore when child support ends in California, the factors that influence termination, and what parents should know to navigate this important aspect of family law.

Factors Influencing Child Support Termination in California

Understanding when child support ends is essential for both paying and receiving parents. Here are the main factors that affect the termination of child support payments in California.

Age of Majority

In California, child support generally ends when the child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old. At this point, the child is legally considered an adult and responsible for financial support. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and child support may continue beyond the age of 18 in certain situations.

High School Graduation

One of the most common exceptions to the age of majority rule is when a child is still in high school at the age of 18. In such cases, child support may continue until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19, whichever comes first. It is essential to note that the child must be actively pursuing a high school diploma or its equivalent to qualify for this extension.

Disability or Special Needs

Child support may also continue beyond the age of majority if the child has a disability or special needs that prevent them from becoming financially independent. In such cases, the court may order ongoing support to ensure the child’s care and well-being. Parents must provide appropriate medical documentation and evidence to support this claim.

Agreement Between Parents

In California, parents can agree to continue child support payments beyond the age of majority, even without specific circumstances like high school graduation or disability. These agreements should be documented and submitted to the court for approval to ensure they are legally enforceable. Such arrangements often occur when both parents agree that additional financial support is necessary, such as for college expenses.

Emancipation

Emancipation is a legal process through which a minor becomes legally independent and is no longer under the control of their parents. Child support obligations in California typically end if a child becomes emancipated before age 18. Emancipation can occur when a minor gets married, joins the military, or becomes financially self-sufficient.

Termination by Court Order

In some cases, child support may be terminated by a court order, even if the child has not reached the age of majority. This can happen if the court finds that continuing child support is no longer in the child’s best interests. Factors influencing such a decision include a significant change in circumstances, a child’s refusal to maintain a relationship with the paying parent, or other compelling reasons.

Child’s Financial Independence

Child support may be terminated if a child becomes financially self-sufficient and no longer relies on their parents for support. This can occur if the child secures a job or other means of support that allows them to cover their living expenses.

Parental Agreements and College Expenses

While child support in California generally terminates at age 18, it’s important to note that parents can agree to continue support for college expenses or other educational costs. These agreements should be formalized and approved by the court. Parents who wish to support their child’s higher education can work together to determine the extent and duration of their financial contributions.

Factors Influencing Child Support Termination

Now that we’ve discussed the various scenarios in which child support may end in California, let’s delve into the factors that influence the termination of child support.

  • Court Orders — Court orders are California’s primary determinants of child support obligations. When the court orders child support, the paying parent is legally obligated to make payments as directed. Conversely, when the court orders the termination of child support, payments must cease.
  • Parental Agreement — As mentioned earlier, parents can agree to extend or terminate child support. Such agreements should be reached amicably and documented, and they can be submitted to the court for approval to ensure they are legally binding.
  • Child’s Age and Status — The child’s age and life circumstances significantly determine when child support ends. Whether the child reaches the age of majority, graduates from high school, becomes emancipated, or experiences a change in circumstances can all affect the termination of child support.
  • Child’s Needs and Best Interests — The court’s primary concern when making child support decisions is the child’s best interests. If it is determined that the child’s needs are adequately met without ongoing child support, the court may order its termination.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika for Legal Help With California Child Support Issues

Child support in California is a critical aspect of family law designed to ensure children receive the financial support they need to thrive. The termination of child support in California is guided by legal processes and court orders. Parents should seek legal counsel and communicate openly to navigate child support matters effectively.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand that child support matters can be complex and frustrating. If you have questions about child support or when your child support payments end, we’re here to help. Our team of family law lawyers will ensure you understand your child support obligations before you stop paying child support.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Child Custody Modification in California: What You Need to Know

child custody modification

Life is never predictable, and as your children grow, their needs change with unexpected circumstances that affect everyone in the family. Certain court orders are able to be modified by California courts, even after a final judgment has been made. Common areas for post-judgment modifications are child custody, visitation orders, child support orders, and spousal support orders. In order to modify child custody, parents have to account for the change of circumstances and be able to prove how a child custody change could benefit their children.

Common Reasons for Child Custody Modification

Judges will allow modifications for a child custody order for the following:

  • Child’s needs have changed
  • The child is in physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual danger
  • One or both parents’ situations changed
  • Non-custodial parent’s work schedule changes
  • Non-custodial parent has moved closer to the other parent
  • The child wishes to live with or spend more time with the non-custodial parent
  • One parent needs to relocate
  • One parent acts irresponsibly (such as not getting their children to school on time, abusing drugs or alcohol in front of the child, etc.)
  • One parent refuses to follow the original child custody order 

Filing for Child Custody Modification

Seeking modification of child custody and visitation orders at any time, if you are able to show the court that a significant change in circumstances has occurred since the first order was made. You will need to show how the modifications can improve your child’s life, and prove that these improvements are in the best interest of your child. You may modify a child custody order at any point until the child turns 18. Typically the parent who wants to modify the order will make the request with help from an attorney.

Steps in Modifying Child Custody in California

  1. Filing court forms: A Request For Order form, and optional Child Custody and Visitation form are made to begin the child custody modification process. In these forms, explain why it is necessary to change the existing custody order. In the optional form, the filing parent should detail information about future visits, holiday arrangements, and other scheduled visitations for the judge to consider their order.
  2. Having forms reviewed by a trusted lawyer: Family Law attorneys will ensure your forms are filled out correctly. Parents also can hire a lawyer for legal advice and assistance through their claim.
  3. Make copies of all court forms: Each parent should receive their own copy of the original court forms that will be given to the court.
  4. Filing forms with the court clerk: A court clerk will stamp the two copies, and keep the original document to be filed. Filing costs with a clerk usually range from $200-400. A fee waiver can be given if a parent is unable to afford the fee.
  5. Receiving mediation or court date: The court clerk will provide the court date, and a parent may have to meet with a mediator prior to said court date.
  6. Serve papers to the other parent: You are able to hire someone over the age of 18 to serve the papers to the other party. Attach a blank Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order, and also check Form FL-300 to notice if there are any additional documents that need to be served. Your attorney will let you know if any paperwork must be served in person, or if a parent can be served by mail. Service of process is to be completed 16 days before the court date, or 21 days when served by mail.
  7. Filing Proof of Service: Whoever is serving the court orders will need to complete a Proof of Personal Service form, and give it to the parent to file at the court. If the process is served through mail, the server will need to fill out a Proof of Service by Mail form.
  8. Attend mediation or court: Your local court might require both parents to attend the mediation. If an agreement isn’t reached in mediation, both parties will need to settle their dispute in court. You and your attorney will need to bring copies of all filed forms to court.
  9. Post Court Proceedings: Once your request for modification has been approved, the judge will sign a court order. A courthouse clerk or staff will then prepare the document for the parent who requested a hearing. If either party had any legal assistance, their lawyer will prepare the document.

Kern County Family Law By Your Side 

Having a trusted attorney to guide your decisions and process paperwork needed can make things easier and more streamlined for you, which is especially desired when it comes down to the future of your children. 

At Azemika Law, we’re here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. 

Contact us today to help you create effective resolutions and build a happy future for you and your children.

Everything You Need To Know About Adult Adoptions

Everything You Need To Know About Adult Adoptions

When we hear about adoption, we immediately think about the adoption process for children. Less talked about, and less common, is adult adoption. Adult adoption happens most typically when step-parents adopt their spouse’s adult children, but we also see cases where families are reunited later in life and want to legalize their rekindled relationship, or can occur if someone needs care with a disability. 

Adult adoption doesn’t give the same legal rights as when adopting a child, due to the adoptee being able to legally make their own decisions, but adult adoption has its own benefits.

What Is Adult Adoption?

Adult adoption is when one adult is adopted by another adult, which legally terminates the parental relationship with the biological parent. In California, the adult adoptee must be 18 or older, and at least 10 years younger than the adopting parent. Everyone involved, including spouses, will have to agree to the adoption in writing. 

An adult adoption establishes all the legal rights and responsibilities between parent and child, which can include things like organizing next of kin, who holds power of attorney, and other legal requests. Once the adoption is completed, the birth parents no longer carry any of the parental duties, rights to, or responsibilities over the adult adoptee. If desired, the newly adopted adult may take on their adoptive parent’s last name, and have their birth certificate amended once the whole process has been completed. Adult adoption does not change any immigration status.

How Do You Adopt an Adult?

When adopting a minor, the consent of both biological parents is required. While adopting an adult, the only consent needed is from the adoptee themselves, and potentially their spouses. There are a few required documents for adult adoptions in California:

  • Adoption agreement: A document that states the parties agree to assume the legal relationship of parent and child, and have all the rights and are subject to duties of that relationship
  • Petition for approval of the adoption agreement: A formal request that the court approves the adoption agreement. This document includes specific details pertaining to the relationship of the child and parent, and why the adoption would be best for both parties.
  • The order of adoption: A formal court order granting the adoption, which should be brought to the adoption hearing to be signed by the judge.
  • Spouse consent: If either parties are married, consent from their spouse(s) is necessary

Adult adoptions are finalized at a hearing in front of a judge. The judge considers a number of factors, and decides based on the best interest of all parties involved. Adult adoption hearings can be made easier when represented by an attorney who has experience navigating adult adoption law and can help avoid any unforeseen circumstances in filing, or in court.

Reasons for Adult Adoption 

There are a few reasons adult adoption happens, and can be beneficial to everyone involved in the relationship.

Legal inheritance can be difficult if there is not a legal relationship between the parent and child. Formalizing the relationship makes the process smoother, less likely to be challenged, and easier to manage under law terms.

Caregivers of adults who have any mental or physical disabilities may adopt to be able to make decisions legally when an adult is unable to care for themselves. Sometimes biological parents are unable to continue caring for their child, and having another caregiver adopt can make legally providing care easier. Other times, maybe an aging parent needs to let their child make important healthcare decisions. This lets the caregiver make legal decisions for another adult that isn’t capable of doing so. 

Foster care situations where a family has fostered a child and have formed a bond, once that child is a legal adult they can legally recognize that relationship. This is beneficial for any children who grow out of the foster care system but don’t wish to return to their biological family.

Older siblings who have cared for their younger siblings and assumed the position of parental responsibility can formalize their relationship by adopting, and make legal situations easier in the future.

Reuniting with a biological family happens when adult adoptees who were adopted as children seek out their birth families, and the biological family chooses to formalize their relationship. This makes the biological family legally their parents again. 

Working With an Attorney for Adult Adoption

When you wish to strengthen the bond of your relationships with an adult adoption, our attorneys at Azemika Law can help. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. 

Serving Kern County for the past 28 years, we provide all of our clients with knowledgeable and affordable representation. We are family law specialists and we understand that each case is as unique as the clients we represent. 

For comprehensive representation in the adoption process, contact us today.

What is the Difference Between Child Support and Alimony?

During the divorce process, there are many financial issues that you will need to work through with your spouse. Among those are the subjects of alimony and child support. People often misunderstand the difference between these two types of support.

While both are support payments typically paid by the same person, they are different, and each has a distinct set of rules. If you are thinking of filing for divorce, it’s important to know how these two types of payments differ, as well as which you might qualify for or which you may be required to pay. We are going to define each type of payment and point out the differences between each.

Alimony

Alimony (also known as spousal support) is a payment made from one spouse to another after a divorce. The intention of alimony is to help the spouse who earns less maintain the same lifestyle as before the divorce.

The courts may grant a spouse alimony in addition to child support.  If you are expecting alimony it’s important to know that the courts will not automatically grant alimony. You have to ask for it.

How Is Alimony Determined?

There isn’t a specific formula to decide if the courts should grant alimony or how they should calculate the payment amount. There are a variety of factors that go into determining alimony payments. (California Family Code section 4320)

  • The income of each spouse as well as their current employment situation
  • Each person’s living expenses
  • The division of assets during the divorce
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age of each spouse

Certain circumstances can cause the amount of the alimony payment that the court initially granted to be modified. For example, if the person paying alimony loses their job, they can ask for a reduction in the amount of alimony they pay. On the other hand, the person receiving alimony can ask for an increase when their cost of living increases.

How Is Alimony Taxed?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changes how alimony payments are taxed. Alimony determinations made before December 31, 2018, require that the person receiving the payments include them as part of their taxable income. And if you are making alimony payments, they are considered a tax deduction.

Determinations made after December 31, 2018, do not require the recipient of the payments to report them as taxable income. And if you are paying alimony, those payments are not tax-deductible.      

Child Support

Child support is money paid by the noncustodial parent to help maintain the child’s standard of living and is typically automatically granted during the divorce proceedings. The custodial parent should use it to cover medical care, food, housing, clothing, and other necessary expenses.

Unless the parents earn the same amount of income and have a 50/50 parenting plan, one parent typically spends more on the children. Child support is issued to make up for that difference.

How Is Child Support Determined?

Child support is determined based on California Family Code Sections 4050-4076. The judge will consider the following information when determining the amount of child support payments:

  • The gross income of each parent
  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • Tax deductions that each parent can claim
  • How much each parent pays in health insurance, union dues, and pension
  • Child care costs paid by each parent

The courts will then plug those numbers into a complex formula that will decide the amount of the child support payments. And while this amount is presumed to be the correct amount that the courts should order, the judge can decide to increase or decrease the amount of support if the situation meets certain criteria.

How Is Child Support Taxed?

Since child support benefits the children, child support payments are not taxable. Also, the parent providing child support can not use child support payments as a tax deduction.

How Are Support Payments Made in California?

Many states use wage garnishment only in cases of non-payment. However, California requires wage garnishments for all support payments. Garnishing the payor’s wages ensures on-time payments because the payor’s employer takes the payments directly from their paycheck and submits them to the state.

Let Us Help You Get the Financial Support You Deserve From Your Divorce

As a parent, the first thing you may think of during a divorce proceeding is child support. But if you are eligible for alimony, you need to make sure that you are taken care of financially. And if the court orders you to pay child support or alimony, it’s important to know your rights and what you are legally required to do.

Having an experienced family law attorney on your side will protect your rights during your divorce. The partners at Azemika & Azemika have over 56 combined years of handling family law cases. We will help you understand your rights, and we will represent you in court and do everything in our power to get you the results you desire.

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Let us fight for you and protect you and your family during this emotional time.

What Can Cause a Parent to Lose Visitation Rights?

There are quite a few reasons that parents could lose their parental rights in California. Some of these reasons are obvious, but some may surprise you.

Child custody orders in California are typically considered final and generally aren’t altered. And while California courts believe that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents, they will not hesitate to limit or revoke custody rights if it is in the child’s best interest to do so.

If you are trying to gain custody of your children, there are some mistakes that you absolutely cannot make. Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes that could cause you to lose visitation rights in the state of California.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse is one of the most substantial and urgent grounds to request a modification or termination of parental rights. The courts have the authority to modify existing custody arrangements if they receive evidence that a parent has been physically, psychologically, or emotionally abusing their child.

Neglecting the child is another way that a parent may lose their visitation rights. Some forms of neglect include failure to:

  • Provide your child with a proper diet
  • Provide adequate shelter
  • Make sure the child is clean and well-groomed
  • Ensure the child attends all scheduled appointments
  • Adequately watch the child

Children who experience neglect and abuse have an increased risk of mental health issues and an increased risk of developing a substance abuse problem in the future. The courts will revoke a parent’s custodial rights if it is in the child’s best interest.

Falsely Accusing the Other Parent of Abuse

If a parent has falsely accused the other parent of abuse, they may also lose custody rights of their child. This is because the court sees false accusations as a way to disrupt the custody process. 

Domestic Violence

When domestic violence exists in a household, it can put the child in a dangerous situation. If either parent is found to abuse any other member of the household, they may find their custody rights in jeopardy, even if the child isn’t the victim.  

Substance Abuse

Parents with substance abuse problems may also risk losing custody and visitation rights. Substance abuse prevents a parent from caring for their children properly, putting them at a higher risk of being neglected or abused.

Mental Health Issues

Although mental health issues do not guarantee that a parent will lose custody, if evidence shows that the parent’s mental illness may pose a threat to the child, custodial rights may be terminated or limited. Before making a custody decision or altering one already in place, the courts may require the parent to complete psychological testing and counseling.

Parental Alienation

As stated earlier, California courts typically come to a custody decision that allows the child to have a relationship and contact with both parents. Parents who share custody have a legal obligation to honor the terms of the arrangements.

Parental alienation happens when a parent tries to keep the child from seeing the other parent or if they try to turn the child against their other parent. The courts do not tolerate this behavior, and the violating parent may have their custody and visitation limited.

Being Absent From Your Child’s Life

There are many reasons why a parent may end up being absent from their child’s life. When a parent has been continually absent from their child’s life, they may find that this affects their custodial rights even if their absence is due to a legitimate reason such as having a demanding job, multiple jobs, or even military service. If you aren’t available to parent your child, your parental rights could be put in jeopardy.

Let the Family Law Attorneys at Azemika & Azemika Help You Protect Your Parental Rights

The bottom line is that raising a child should be a team effort. Both parents should be contributing to the welfare of their child and should be doing what is in the best interest of their child, despite how they feel about each other.

If you are facing a custody battle or if you are worried about losing visitation or custody of your children, let the experienced attorneys at Azemika & Azemika help. Our partners have a combined total of over 56 years of experience with family law cases.  Whether it is a simple case, or a complex case, we will be there to help you understand and protect your parental rights.

We know that this is a challenging time for you and your family. You will be continuously updated on the status of your case so that you can make informed decisions.

Schedule a consultation today. 

Options for maintaining child support while unemployed

The circumstances of your life are constantly changing, but that doesn’t mean your obligation to pay child support will. California requires both parents to help meet the financial needs of raising their child or children. So while changes in your income can alter your responsibility somewhat, you still need to go through the legal process to make it official and avoid punishment. But what can you do when you’re unemployed and have no income? 

At Azemika & Azemika Law, we specialize in many aspects of Kern County family law, including maintaining child support during difficult times. Because California courts make child support judgments in the best interest of the child, there are times when you may feel the amount you must pay is overwhelming or unrealistic. Thankfully, there are solutions available to ensure you keep making your payments on time—and we can help you sort through the options that best match your situation.

In this article, we’ll outline how different forms of unemployment can impact your child support obligations. We’ll also analyze how courts can calculate changes to your payment obligation should you find yourself unemployed. Then, with the help of an experienced family law attorney in Bakersfield, you can take the necessary steps to adjust your child support payments. 

Types of Unemployment

For child support, California considers three different types of unemployment:

  • Voluntary unemployment, wherein a parent chooses not to work (or loses their job) but doesn’t seek new employment.
  • Involuntary unemployment, where a parent loses their job through circumstances beyond their control and is unable to secure work despite their best efforts.
  • Voluntary underemployment, which sees a parent choosing to work less or receiving total income less than they were when the judge issued the initial child support order.

A judge will look at your specific circumstances to determine whether or not an adjustment to your child support order is valid. Understandably, courts don’t view all cases with sympathy. For example, if you quit your job and opt not to look for a new job, that’s a personal decision within your control that will warrant an adjustment.

A judge is more likely to adjust if you can demonstrate that the reason for your job loss or underemployment wasn’t your choice. For example, suppose budget cuts resulted in your termination, and you have been diligently searching for a new job. In that case, it’s more likely that a judge will alter the original support order until you can find employment. However, if you were terminated due to poor performance or bad behavior and still can’t find a job, that’s not out of your control.

However, the circumstances of why you’re unemployed aren’t the only factor determining a change in a child support order. Besides investigating cases, California courts must decide what you should still pay, if anything, following state guidelines. To do this, they use imputed income to make a final calculation.

What Is Imputed Income?

Imputed income could be thought of as a baseline salary you could be making if you were still working full-time. However, rather than look at the job you previously held, courts usually use state or federal minimum wage guidelines to determine what you should continue paying. While this doesn’t altogether remove your child support responsibilities, it could reduce them considerably. 

Another purpose of imputed income is to punish parents who are acting in bad faith. For example, a parent who goes out of their way to get fired, or chooses to quit and not seek work, could be doing so intending to hurt their former spouse. Imputed income ensures they can’t weaponize unemployment against their ex-partner or their child.

Imputed income isn’t always used by courts when a parent is suffering hardships, however. For example, if you’re able to demonstrate that you’re putting in your best effort to secure work or have a valid reason for not seeking employment (like staying home to care for a loved one), imputed income likely won’t come into play. Instead, a judge may make a temporary change in your payments until you find work or can return to work.

What Counts As Income?

When they crafted your initial child support order, the courts looked at more than your employment wages to determine what you should pay. These revenue streams, such as stocks, bonds, and other investments, contributed to that final figure. So even when you’re unemployed, those additional revenue streams will still count towards your total income. 

That being the case, you may need to sell some assets to illustrate that you’re doing everything you can to meet your payment obligations, even if you aren’t actively earning an income from working. It’s a factor in showing that you’re doing everything to meet your obligations. However, this doesn’t apply to all assets, nor is it a steadfast rule.

You Can Count on Azemika Law

The complexities of child support laws can be overwhelming on their own, but meeting your responsibilities on top of unemployment can feel like an impossible task. However, how you try to solve the problem can significantly impact your future, so it’s best to work with Bakersfield’s best family law attorneys.

That’s where we come in.

At Azemika & Azemika Law, we have expertise in family law, including child support, child custody and visitation, father visitation, and divorce. Let us help you navigate these and other changes in your family life with compassion and understanding. Reach out to our office now to discuss your needs and learn what we can do for you.

Can paternity results be challenged?

Are you wondering if you can challenge paternity test results to determine if the results are accurate? The short answer is —  Yes. A paternity test is vital to establish who the true father is of a child. Once verified, it places legal rights and responsibilities on the individual to provide support and care for the child.  

There are different reasons why someone would want to establish or challenge paternity.

Before you begin, it is wise to research and choose solid legal support to help you gather evidence and build your case. Whether you are the mother or the presumed father who wants to explore the results of a paternity test, the outcome will have a significant effect on your life.

Going through the paternity process can be emotionally and mentally draining. Today, we will look into why establishing paternity is essential, the reasons one might want to challenge a paternity test, and how to challenge the results. We are here to help you navigate this complex issue and the family court system.

Why Establishing Paternity Is Important

In child custody cases, the outcome of a paternity test determines who will have input in raising a child, their daily life, schooling, medical decisions, and financial responsibility, which is excellent if you are the father and want shared custody. For a mother, paternity tests can help establish the right to financial support from the father and access to the crucial medical history of the father.

Perhaps a parent wants to collect support for a child, and you don’t believe it is your child. You don’t want the financial or legal responsibilities, you will need help challenging paternity.

Raising and being responsible for a child is a lifetime commitment. If you have a question, it is best to find out the truth sooner rather than later. If you are considering filing a paternity suit, here are some of the reasons why you may want or be able to take the next step.

Reasons To Challenge Paternity

While testing is primarily accurate, sometimes the results are wrong. Utilizing medical evidence in establishing the father of a child is normal, and here are the grounds for challenging the results are as follows:

  • Lab results that are inconclusive or inaccurate
  • Lab results are fraudulent because someone else went to the lab to take the test instead of the presumed father
  • Presumed father provides proof of infertility or sterility
  • Evidence that the results of the test were tampered with by someone
  • Proof of infidelity in the marriage 
  • To prove a child is yours in a child custody case
  • To establish a child is not yours in a custody or support case
  • To determine the child’s father for child support and to have access to the fathers medical history

If this sounds like you or someone you know, there may have grounds for a paternity suit. Protect your rights and privileges and the rights and privileges of the child you love.

Ways To Challenge Paternity

Establishing paternity and challenging paternity is done through very similar methods. State laws differ, so seeking local legal advice from an attorney is best to help navigate the complex state laws in family court.

Filing a complaint with the court is the first step. The court will likely order DNA tests for the child and the father to determine the actual father. The court allows the use of medical documents and blood tests as evidence. DNA is the most accurate way to determine paternity and is the final factor. Once a DNA test is complete, the court will officially establish who is the child’s father with a Declaration of Paternity.

Another thing that some states consider is the emotional and psychological impact on the child if a man has been considered their father for many years, which can make proving paternity more difficult.

We Can Help You Challenge Paternity

Determining if the evidence provided is sufficient to use in court to challenge paternity results is best done by an experienced attorney. You don’t have to navigate the legal challenges and the family court system alone. We have helped many people in your circumstances.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand the complexities of state laws and the family court system. The issues that you are facing are emotionally, financially, and legally challenging. Our practice is exclusively devoted to the field of family law. As a result, we can handle cases involving divorce, dissolution of domestic partnerships, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, paternity, abandonment, and adoptions. With efficiency and great attention to detail, our partners at Azemika & Azemika use our vast experience in family law to customize each case to our clients’ needs.

Contact us today for a consultation, and we will work with you to determine the best option for your future.

What Can I Do If a Parent Is Not Paying Child Support?

Has your former partner stopped paying their court-ordered child support? Sadly, it’s a widespread occurrence —  a 2018 Census report showed that less than half of custodial parents received their full child support benefits. Many parents face this very situation and feel an increased pressure to meet the expenses that come with raising their child.

Adding to this already overwhelming problem are the complications involved in tracking down and communicating with your former partner. Did they leave the state and cut off communication? If you can find them, are they combative and unwilling to pay? Though this can put you in a lonely and challenging position, you aren’t alone. Thankfully, there are other ways to remedy the situation.

In California, custodial parents can file a complaint in court against the non-custodial parent for not paying child support (or not making payments in total). From there, the weight of resolving the problem is off your shoulders. The legal system will begin the process of notifying your former partner and getting the payments for you.

At Azemika Law, we are deeply involved with California divorce law and work with clients struggling to get the child support payments they’re entitled to. We wrote this guide to illustrate how California parents can get late, missing, or incomplete child support payments. Read on to discover your options.

Reporting Non-Payment

If your ex-partner has stopped sending payments in part or in full, the first step to remedy the situation is to bring a copy of your order to a child support agency. One of our Kern County family law attorneys can help you through the process of proving your ex-partner did not pay child support. The agency will then begin the work of collecting the missing money.

As a state department, the child support agency has many resources to locate a non-paying partner and get your child support payments. The first step is to send the non-paying parent notifications and a time frame in which to respond. Should they fail to respond, the agency may move on to any other methods listed below.

Suspension of Drivers Licence

The child support agency will contact the department of motor vehicles and notify them of the issue. In compliance with state law, the DMV will refuse to renew the non-paying parent’s driver’s license until they pay their debt. They may instead suspend or revoke the license. Depending on the severity of the situation, the DMV may choose to issue them a temporary license while your ex-partner makes back payments.

Suspension of Professional Licenses

By suspending professional or occupational licenses, the state prevents the non-custodial parent from working in specialized occupations. Often, this happens in concurrence with driver’s license suspension or immediately afterward. The lack of professional licensing prevents them from legally holding well-paying jobs in related fields and serves as the first financial punishment against them.

Credit Reporting

An often overlooked fact following divorce is that not meeting the child and spousal support obligations can hurt one’s credit score. Ideally, this adds additional pressure on your ex-partner to make payments. Unfortunately, if their credit score is already low, they may not care or even notice. However, the efforts don’t end there.

Collect Wages and Other Money

If your ex-partner collects disability, workers compensation, or a tax refund, the state of California can collect it instead and use it to pay missing child support as well as use it towards future payments. Sometimes, this occurs alongside wage garnishment. 

Passport Suspension

If your ex-partner owes $2,500 or more in unpaid child support, they risk losing their passport until they meet their financial obligations. If they don’t have a passport, this will prevent them from getting one.

Filing A Motion of Contempt

If payments don’t resume after filing your complaint, it can become a criminal matter. At this point, you can file a motion of contempt with the court to hold the other parent liable to more severe penalties. Our firm can assist you through this process. However, keep in mind that there is a three-year statute of limitations on child support in California, so there comes a point where it is too late to collect on past payments.

California advises parents not to file a motion of contempt before using other methods because it carries both civil and criminal penalties. In some circumstances, a parent found guilty could even serve jail time.

Once you file the motion of contempt, a judge will hold a hearing to determine if the non-payments were intentional. That’s where the contempt itself lies: because child support, alimony, and other forms of spousal support are court-ordered, disregarding them is contempt of court. If found guilty, the court can enact any of the following punishments.

  • Wage garnishment or direct garnishment of their bank accounts
  • Order payments from benefit sources (pension, disability), gambling winnings, community property
  • Order the sale of their property to make back payments
  • Community service for at least 120 hours but increasing with each case of contempt
  • Payment of your legal fees going back to your first attempt to collect back payments
  • Rarely, a judge may order a fine for each case of contempt, but that is becoming less frequent
  • Jail time

These are only some of the penalties a California court can impose. However, there are potential federal punishments based on how much money they owe and if they deliberately attempted to avoid making them. Federal cases carry the most severe penalties, but state-level courts cannot impose them.

What If There’s a Reason for Non-Payment?

Your ex-partner may not be in the financial position to make payments. They may have even communicated this to you. However, simply stating this, even if they can demonstrate it to you, isn’t enough to remove their child support responsibilities. 

A California child support agency allows parents to modify a child support order for many reasons, including financial hardship. So your ex-spouse will need to go through the process as soon as they realize they can’t meet their responsibilities. Should things go to court, hardship can’t be used as a defense if they didn’t try to modify the agreement on those grounds, even if they can demonstrate that they did not have the money. 

Azemika Law Can Help

If you need help understanding the complexities of California divorce laws or would like an experienced attorney to help you work through divorce as efficiently as possible, call on our attorneys at Azemika & Azemika
We are experts in Kern County family law who bring compassion and honesty to everything that we do. We’ll treat you and your family with respect and confidentiality as we help you achieve the best outcome possible. Contact us today to learn more about our expertise and what we can do to help you.