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Santa Rosa Child & Spousal Support Attorney

Support for Your Family After the End of a Relationship

The Family Law Offices of Carol A. Gorenberg is experienced in all aspects of child and spousal support – getting an initial order, modifying the order, or enforcing the order.

Whether you have been the primary breadwinner or you’ve put off your career to raise the children, we can offer guidance if you are experiencing the end of a relationship and need help entering this next phase of your life. We’ll do more than calculate the numbers; we’ll help you and your former partner deal with the economic side of ending your relationship so both can be proud to be on their own feet. We’ll refer you to resources you need and help you plan for what lies ahead.

If you would like to speak to an experienced, compassionate family law attorney regarding your child support and/or spousal support, please contact our office at (707) 523-1810. We will meet with you to give you a confidential case assessment and help you understand your rights and obligations. If you are unable to meet during business hours, we can arrange an appointment on weekends or evenings.

Child Support

Children have the legal right to support from each of their parents. California law provides a formula that calculates how this obligation is shared by the parents. The formula, known as the statewide uniform Guideline, takes into consideration:

  • How each child’s time is divided between the parents (“timeshare”);
  • ŸEach parent’s gross income from all sources;
  • Any personal expenses that lower a parent’s taxes, such as mortgage interest, health insurance, or retirement contributions;
  • ŸEach parent’s tax filing status and number of dependents;
  • Other factors on a case-by-case basis.

How to Get a Child Support Order

There are several ways the child support process can begin:

  • Through a marital dissolution (divorce) proceeding
  • Through a parentage (paternity) proceeding between unmarried parents
  • Through a petition for support of minor children
  • When a parent receives public assistance, such as Medi-Cal, it may trigger a support case to be filed by the county against the other parent.

Child support is one of the few areas in Family Law where you can get legal assistance at no charge. The Department of Child Support Services (“DCSS”) was established to help the states lower the amount of welfare benefits that are paid to parents, by finding absent parents and establishing child support orders. Even if you and your child’s other parent are not avoiding your child support obligations, DCSS can help you gather the required information and establish a child support order. They can also help you find an the other parent and get information about his or her earnings, modify a child support order, and collect from that parent’s paycheck. Attorneys at DCSS can also help in enforcing child support orders when a parent has failed to pay what has already been ordered by a court, even if that parent is living in a different state.

Benefits of Hiring a Private Attorney for Your Child Support Order

There are many fine points about calculating child support that may apply if the parents have very different incomes, if one or both parents has fluctuating income from self-employment or commissions, or if your children are young and there is also a spousal support obligation between the parents. See our FAQs for answers to some common questions about child support.

It’s important to keep in mind that the DCSS’s “client” is the State, and they will take a neutral position between the two parents. If you are looking for a zealous advocate for your position or if you want to take a more creative approach to calculating the amount of support and reducing taxes, you would do best to hire a private attorney. At the Family Law Offices of Carol A. Gorenberg we can help you get the most of out of your support order, whether you are paying or receiving support.

Click Here to See Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

Spousal Support

Spousal support (California’s name for “Alimony”) is the support obligation one spouse may have to the other after a marriage ends. Unlike child support, there is no entitlement to spousal support and it does not have a specific formula. The legal reasons for ordering spousal support are quite different from child support. The purpose of spousal support is to enable the lower earning spouse to get back on his or her feet after the marriage ends, and over time, to become self-supporting. Depending on the length of the marriage, the lower earning spouse may have the right to continue living at or near the marital standard of living.

Spousal support law has changed a great deal as the result of changing social norms and policies regarding the roles of spouses. Unlike the social policies of the 1940’s and 1950’s, today’s values tend toward encouraging independence and autonomy after a marriage ends. Judges in Family Court have a great deal of discretion in ordering spousal support – It is rare today to see a “lifetime” spousal support award.

Your Sonoma County Advocate for a Fair and Reasonable Spousal Support Order

Our Family Law Attorney is experienced at presenting the facts and legal reasons that can make the difference in whether the court orders spousal support, how much, and for how long. There are many factors that go into the decision to award spousal support to one spouse or the other. These include:

  • The current and potential earning capacity of each party, including the possibility of retraining or education to meet that potential
  • A parent’s staying out of the workforce during the marriage to raise the parties’ children
  • One spouse’s contribution to the education or career of the other
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The marital standard of living the parties enjoyed
  • The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
  • The length of the marriage
  • History of domestic violence between the parties during the marriage

The length of time that spousal support will be paid is another important issue to be decided by the court, or negotiated between the former spouses. How your facts are presented and what areas of the law are focused on can make a significant difference. If you’ll need retraining in order to make a good living, we’ll help you find the resources to make those important decisions and advocate for you to be given the time you need to make the career change you seek.