Nothing is more important than our kids. In the state of California, the law and the courts presume that every child has a right to financial support from both parents. It doesn’t matter if the child was born to a married couple, adopted, or if the child’s parents never married.

When married parents divorce – or if there is a dispute between unmarried parents – a non-custodial parent can be ordered by a California family court to make child support payments to the custodial parent. A child support law firm in Cerritos can help.

What are a non-custodial parent’s options in this state for making child support payments? Keep reading. If the salary or wages of the non-custodial parent are not enough to cover the child support obligation, funds from a family trust may be used to make the child support payments.

HOW IS A CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENT AMOUNT DETERMINED BY A COURT?

Unless the parents are able to be somewhat conciliatory and come to their own agreement regarding child support, California family courts will determine an appropriate child support payment amount by using the state’s complicated Child Support Guidelines.

These guidelines account for the income and earning capacities of each parent, the number and needs of the children, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children.

If in any particular case, the figure arrived at by using the state’s guidelines is unfair or inappropriate, a family court judge has the discretion to make an adjustment to the figure.

FOR CHILD SUPPORT PURPOSES, WHAT IS COUNTED AS INCOME?

Income is more than merely earnings. By statute in California, income includes salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, dividends, pensions, income from rental properties, Social Security and workers’ compensation benefits, and income received from a trust or annuity.

The funds held by many trusts are distributed monthly or annually to the beneficiaries. If a trust beneficiary is a non-custodial parent who has been ordered to make child support payments, trust income can – and in some cases should – be used toward satisfying the child support obligation.

Other trusts may transfer to a beneficiary all of his or her trust money in a one-time, lump sum payment. A parent with a child support obligation who receives such income should consider setting aside a portion of that amount for future child support payments.

CAN A TRUST BE GARNISHED FOR CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS?

California courts are dedicated to putting the best interests of the children first in matters of family law, so the enforcement of court-issued child support orders is a priority in this state.

The family courts have a number of legal tools available that can be used when a child support obligation is not being satisfied. A wage garnishment, for example, takes a percentage of a delinquent parent’s earnings during each pay period – before that parent receives a paycheck.

A comparable “trust garnishment” can be placed on trust income, when necessary, to satisfy a child support obligation.

CAN YOU MAKE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS THROUGH A TRUST?

Some non-custodial parents in California may want to create a trust fund specifically for the child as a method of meeting the child support obligation. With the assistance of a family law attorney and the approval of a judge, a parent may create a trust specifically for this purpose.

Creating a trust, as you might imagine, is a quite complicated procedure that requires expert financial advice, sound legal insights, and the careful creation of a number of detailed legal and financial documents.

In other words, if creating a trust for child support purposes is the option that you choose, you should understand that it may require a great deal more of your energy and time than simply writing a child support check to the child’s other parent each month.

CAN YOU HAVE A CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENT ORDER MODIFIED?

If you are already making child support payments, and if you want to create a trust exclusively for child support purposes, you will have to request and obtain a modification of the original child support order from the court.

In southern California, to request and obtain a child support order modification, you will need to be advised and represented by an experienced Cerritos family law attorney.

Modifications of child support payment orders are typically granted by a family court only when one parent’s life circumstances have significantly changed – when a parent is promoted or loses a job, relocates, is convicted of a crime, becomes disabled, or gets remarried, for example.

To modify a child support order and create a trust for child support purposes, you’ll need to show a judge that granting your modification request is in the best interests of the child. As mentioned above, the paramount priority of California’s family courts is the best interests of the children.

FOR HOW LONG ARE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS TYPICALLY REQUIRED?

Most parents who make child support payments in California do so until a child’s 18th birthday, although child support payments may be extended if the child is still attending high school, if the child is mentally or physically handicapped, or by the agreement of both parents.

In southern California, an experienced Cerritos family law attorney can help a custodial parent obtain a court order for child support and can see to it that the order is enforced.

You’ll also need a good family lawyer’s help if you are contesting a child support modification request that’s been made by the child’s other parent.

If you decide to create a trust exclusively for child support payment purposes, or if you need to have a modification of your original child support order for any other reason, a good family lawyer will handle the request for a modification on your behalf.

IN WHAT OTHER WAYS CAN A CHILD SUPPORT ATTORNEY HELP?

If you are involved with your child’s other parent in any dispute regarding child support, child custody, or child visitation, or if you need specific advice about setting up a trust for child support purposes, speak at once with a reliable California family lawyer.

Your family law attorney needs to be someone you completely trust, someone who thoroughly understands that nothing is more important to you than your child or children.

A good family law attorney can review your circumstances, explain your options, and help you make the right choices for yourself and for your child or children. Every parent has the right to a good attorney’s help. And our children have a right to the very best that we can give them.