California has many family laws dealing with marriage and children that used to only apply to couples and parents who included one man and one woman. However, California courts and legislators have learned that this is no longer the case in every couple or family, and have quickly adapted them to same-sex couples. In many situations, the laws were already gender neutral and can apply easily to a family of any makeup. If you and your spouse are going through a divorce or otherwise have child support issues, the Ventura child support lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations on new cases.
Child Support Laws in California for LGBT Couples
California’s child support rules apply to any parent that has child custody, and do not have any preference that a mother receives child support and a father pays child support. This means that in couples with two fathers or two mothers, this is not the determining factor. Instead, child support is based on child custody, the number of children being supported, and the combined income of the parties.
Who pays and who receives child support depends primarily on who has child custody under California law. In CA, one party is given primary physical custody of the children, and the other may have visitation rights or may get custody of their shared children on weekends, holidays, or during summer vacation. California law prefers this situation and favors giving this kind of joint custody to parents under the presumption that children need both of their parents in their lives.
When one party has the kids for most of the calendar year, they also pay out-of-pocket for most of the children’s needs. To defray these costs, the other parent is usually the one who pays child support. This means that deciding which party pays support deals more with child custody than any other factors. There is a widely-held belief that California courts prefer to give primary custody to the mother – but in cases where there are two mothers or no mothers, this belief does not affect the outcome. Instead, custody is often given to the parent who can best take the time to provide child care and raise the kids.
The actual amount of child support deals with other factors. The number of children being supported – including on this order, as well as other children that live with the parties – helps decide how much money is needed for child support. This amount scales based on the combined income of the parties, and each party is expected to cover their fair share of the support.
Modifying Child Support in California
Because child support is heavily dependent on the number of children each parent has and each party’s income, the amount needed for child support can change over time. If a parent has another child, adopts another child, or remarries or moves in with a new partner who already has children, they may suddenly find themselves supporting more children. This could entitle them to a reduced child support order. The same is true if either parent changes jobs and suddenly makes a drastically different income.
In general, child support orders can be modified upon life changes that are “material” and “substantial.” A “material” change is one that directly touches one of these factors, such as the number of children or either party’s income. A change is “substantial” if it is a drastic change. If you change jobs, but your overall income only changes by a few hundred dollars per year, this may not be a “substantial” enough change to warrant modifying a support order.
Some of the following are excellent examples of situations that might justify having a support order modified in California:
- A child turns 18, graduates from high school, and leaves parental care;
- Either parent has or adopts another child;
- Either parent moves in with someone who has children;
- Either parent loses their job; or
- Either parent gets a substantial raise/promotion/new job;
Child support orders do not change automatically. In order to have the amount changed, you must go to court and get a judge to approve modifications. In most cases, California child support is automatically extracted from your paycheck. However, it is vital that you do not change the amounts on your own or cancel child support payments until a judge approves these changes.
Ventura, CA Same Sex Child Support Lawyers
The Ventura family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth have decades of experience practicing law in California. If you are going through a child custody or child support battle after your same-sex divorce or breakup, contact our law offices today. Our Ventura, California lawyers offer free, confidential consultations on new cases. Call (805) 585-5056 today for your free consultation.