How Social Distancing and COVID-19 Related Employment Changes Impact Your Child Support and Childcare Related Issues

How Social Distancing and COVID-19 Related Employment Changes Impact Your Child Support and Childcare Related Issues

The financial crisis experienced by many families in America is extreme-shut-downs, limited services, and even law firms, are suffering and unable to maintain their business infrastructure and revenue.  Layoffs, if they have not happened yet, are all but promised.  At this time, the shelter-in-place is extended almost weekly, and no one truly knows when, of even if, life will return to what we once knew.

Those with child support or modifiable spousal support obligations are surely concerned about paying bills while also obeying court orders for support payments. Adding fuel to the fire, Contra Costa County, as well as many Bay Area Counties, have moved into hearing only “emergency” requests, and the definition of “emergency” is not exactly clear.

Meanwhile, California has implemented some of the strictest shelter in place regulations in the nation-schools and most daycares are closed, and adequate childcare can be an issue, especially for essential workers.  The luxury of having family at home to assist with childcare, home schooling, etc., is not something everyone enjoys. So what next?

Should you file a Request for Order to Modify Support?

The first stop is to review the local rules for the county your case is in, or in the county which would have jurisdiction over your case.  Most, if not all, counties have implemented emergency COVID-19 local rules.  You may reference COVID-19 resources on our website, www.mwlawca.com, or connect with us on Facebook, to review your county’s local rules.  If support motions are permitted, and mostly they are, you may file for a modification; however, a court date may not be offered until your courthouse reopens for hearings, or until your county has a virtual hearing system in place.

California law permits the Court to have authority (often referred to as jurisdiction) to make support orders retroactively to the date the motion was filed. If you are the parent obligated to pay support (the payor), and you have a substantial change in circumstances (job loss, hour or salary reductions, etc.) you may file a Request for Order requesting a modification of the required support payment, while also asking for the Court to make the new order retroactive to the date the motion was filed.  If you anticipate a substantial change in circumstances, you may draft your Request for Order in advance, so it is prepared and ready for filing if/when your income change occurs.  This will help prevent any delay which can be caused by the drafting time.  Job loss, reduction of hours or salary, would unquestionably be a basis to modify child support, especially if it was not due to any act by the payor.  However, remember, a motion to modify support doesn’t excuse non-payment or otherwise order support while you await new orders.

On balance, if your childcare costs have increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Request for Order is appropriate as well. Due to the court closures and the hearings on emergency matters, your case may not be heard quickly, but you will have preserved the retroactivity rights with the timely filing of your Request for Order.  Remember, most orders are written with an equal responsibility to both parents to pay for childcare costs.  Times are uncertain and unclear at this time.  It is critical that you understand your court orders, and you act on them timely and appropriately. If you need further assistance in review, understanding, modifying or enforcing your court order, we can help.  Stay healthy!

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Considering a Modification in Custody? Be Realistic about Your Expectations and the Needs of Your Child or Children

Considering a Modification in Custody? Be Realistic about Your Expectations and the Needs of Your Child or Children

Modifications to a custody agreement make sense as the ages and needs of your children change. What might have been appropriate for a child at 2 may no longer make sense now that the child is a teenager.

Likewise, changes to a parent’s job or living situation may also create the need to modify your custody agreement.

Courts take modifications seriously.  If you want to be successful in making modifications to your current child custody orders, it may be best to contact an experienced family law attorney in Danville or Walnut Creek.

Factors to Keep in Mind When Asking the Court to Modify Your Custody Orders

  • In California, the court likes to have both parents equally involved in the children’s lives. Unless a parent is unfit, the best interest of the child/children is served when both parents get as close to the same amount of time with the children as possible.
  • As children age, it’s not uncommon for them to want to spend more time at one parent’s house than another. The courts may take this into account when you ask for a modification, but they still want both parents involved. Consider ways to satisfy the child’s desires and needs and have the other parent still involved.
  • Asking for a change in custody based upon the desires of the child/ren is not necessarily going to cause a change of custody. Family court takes the child’s age and reasons for wanting to change custody into serious consideration. While courts do tend to listen to the wants and needs of children 14 years of age and older, their primary objective is to have constant contact with both parents on an equal basis.
  • In the case one of the parent’s needs to alter visitation due to job change or a change in residence, consider ways the parent can see the child outside of working hours. Spending more days in the summer, on weekends, or during holidays may benefit all parties.
  • The request to modify is not quick. If you ask for a modification and the other parent objects, the courts will need to set a time for a trial. Simply getting a day on the calendar can be complicated as both attorneys and the court must be available.

The Impact of a Custody Modification on the Child/Children

Whatever your reason for a change in custody, courts will emphasize the needs of the children over the parents.  Stability and consistency are two factors that kids will thrive on, as well as the unconditional love from two equally involved parents.

Considering Mendes Weed, LLP if you Need a Family Law Attorney

Custody changes can be an emotional and challenging time for all parties. When parents can’t agree to modify the current custody plan on their own, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Family Law attorney who has experiences representing you in Family Court.

If you need help or want advice, contact Mendes Weed, LLP. Or visit our website for more information about Family Law.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided in this email are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information in this email should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
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Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

Can Your Child Support Payments Go Up?

Can Your Child Support Payments Go Up?

So what does the law say on child support obligations in California?  The child’s best interest is the State’s number one priority.  Under Family Code 4053, the legislature laid out the position on child support, and the related analysis and bases.

The code establishes that a parent’s primary obligation is to support their child(ren).  The obligation is a mutual one, applying to both parents, which establishes that support payments be based upon the parent’s respective ability to pay, income, and custodial timeshare.  The code also establishes that the child(ren) share in the parents’ standard of living.

It is also understood that child support may also increase a custodial parent’s standard of living, under the theory that by increasing a custodial parent’s standard of living, the child’s standard of living is also increased.  The high cost of living is also a consideration under the code. There is a presumption that the primary parent is already making large contributions to the needs of the children. Also, child support is always modifiable.  Any contractual provision seeking to terminate child support is not valid.  Below guideline support can be established if certain criteria are met.

If you have questions about your child support payments, and whether what you are paying or receiving is accurate, please feel free to contact Mendes Weed, LLP. You may also use this calculator to give you an idea.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667