1) If we share 50/50 custody of our kids, neither parent has to pay child support.
False. Child Support is calculated using a mathematical formula that takes into account the gross earnings of each parent as well as each party’s time share with the children. Therefore, even if the parties share 50/50 physical custody of the children, the parent who earns more money than the other will likely pay child support.
2) My divorce will be final 6 months after I file for divorce.
False. In the state of California, the earliest a divorce can be finalized is six months after the Petition was filed. This does not mean that all divorces are automatically final six months later. Rather, divorces can take up to a year and in some cases several years to complete. In addition to the six month time frame, all the family law state and local procedures must be completed prior to a judgment being entered to finalize the divorce.
Parties may decide to settle their divorce before the six month time frame has expired, but a judge will not sign the judgment finalizing the divorce until six months have passed.
3) My ex does not pay child support, so I do not have to let him/her visit our child.
False. Custody/Visitation and Child Support are two entirely different issues. Courts will always protect children’s rights to have consistent contact with both parents. Therefore, parties are not entitled to withhold visitation because the other parent fails to pay their support obligation. If support is not being paid, speak with an attorney about going back to court to have the judge make orders to assist in collecting the unpaid support.
4) If I was married for over 10 years, I will collect spousal support for the rest of my life.
False. Spousal support is not guaranteed in any case. Courts must weigh relevant factors such as the age, health, and earning capacity of the spouse seeking support when determining an award of spousal support. California requires every individual to make a reasonable effort to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time. Simply because the parties were married for over ten years does not mean the party seeking support can live off spousal support the rest of their life. They must take reasonable steps to become self-supporting or a case could be made to terminate spousal support altogether.
5) My child support payment should be lowered because my expenses are too high.
False. California Courts adopted a guideline child support calculation in 1984, which factors in the gross incomes of the parents, timeshare each parent has with the children, as well as tax exemptions and filing status when determining the amount of child support a party owes. A party’s expenses are not factored in when determining the child support due, because courts treat child support as the primary financial obligation that must be paid prior to any other bills.
Hoang-Anh Zapien is an Associate with Kring & Chung, LLP‘s Inland Empire, CA office. She can be contacted at (909) 941-3050 or [email protected].