What are the benefits of hiring a child support lawyer?

California has a complex set of statutes governing child support. For most people child support will be determined by what is called “guideline child support.” Guideline child support refers to a formula which considers many factors including income, tax status, marital status, age of the children, amount of time each parent spends with the children, housing deductions, health insurance and more. The formula gets even more complex for individuals with high incomes, variable incomes, and incomes divided between taxable and non-taxable such as military members and some federal employees.  Child support can get even more complicated for high income earners and those with unusual circumstances that might warrant a deviation from the guideline formula.

It can be extremely difficult to navigate the intricacies of the California child support laws. So, the question is what are the benefits of hiring a lawyer familiar with California’s child support laws?

Knowledge of the Guideline Formula:
California Family Code §4055 provides that the formula to determine child support is CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]. Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry we do. Experienced child support lawyers such as the attorneys at Mesnik Law Group handle child support cases frequently and will be able to explain exactly how child support is calculated, help you identify the factors relevant to your case, and most importantly help you negotiate, or present your case to the Court in the most advantageous way for you.

A lack of understanding of all the factors relevant to a child support order means you may be paying to much or receiving too little. Not all factors are intuitive to someone not experienced with the guideline formula which leads to mistakes in calculation that could be devastating to your bottom line.

Tax Considerations:
The California child support guideline formula is highly affected by various tax factors such as your filing status (i.e., single, head of household, married), as well as tax deductions for other children, mortgage interest, age of children, taxability of income earned in California vs income earned in other states or countries.  An experienced child support lawyer can guide you to making sure the child support calculation includes all the proper tax factors for your case to ensure a fair outcome.

High Earners & Deviation Cases:
While the California child support guideline is designed to be applicable to the vast majority of parents, California recognizes that it may not be appropriate for everyone. California permits the Court to deviate from the guideline formula in special circumstances, one of them being the high earner exception. However, the law does not specify what a high earner is leaving that to the judge to determine. Furthermore, the law does not specify how to deviate.  An experienced lawyer can help you understand if you or the other parent qualifies and how to best present your case to the judge for the best outcome in your case.

Paper work and Pleadings:
The forms and pleadings required for the Court to consider a child support order can be a bit complex. The income and expense declaration, also known as the FL-150, is required in every case and must be filled out completely and accurately. The form must also be accompanied by various documentation to evidence your income, such as paystubs, tax forms, profit and loss statements, unemployment letter, bank records, etc.  An incomplete or inaccurate form can delay your case or prevent your case from moving forward all together.

Being Overmatched by the Other Side Having a Lawyer:
The complicated nature of child support, the ongoing nature of child support, and California’s relatively high amount of support mean that the stakes are high if you are caught overmatched by an experienced child support lawyer when trying to represent yourself or using an attorney unfamiliar with the child support laws. There is really no replacement for an experienced child support lawyer to ensure your child support orders are fair.

Knowledge of the Local Judges:
While the child support guideline formula is ridged, the discretion judges have to determine what numbers to plug into the formula can be significant in some circumstances, such as imputing income to an unemployed or underemployed person, or in cases of self-employed individuals.  It is important to know and understand not only the child support laws but how each individual judge applies those laws.  Such things are nearly impossible anyone other than an experienced child support lawyer to know.  The lawyers at Mesnik Law Group, Inc. handle cases in each courthouse in the county (Downtown, El Cajon, Chula Vista, and Vista). We make it our job to know each judge as much as possible to ensure we present your case to them as efficiently as possible.

Protect yourself and your family by hiring a competent lawyer to help you through your child support matter. Contact us at Mesnik Law Group, Inc. to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys on how we can protect you and guide you through the process.