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Q: “I make less money than my child’s mother. Why am I being ordered to pay her child support?”

A: Child support is not just a function of the parents’ earnings. It is not unusual for a lower earning parent who spends much less time with the child to have to pay support to the higher earning parent.

Q: “My children’s father and I have a 50-50 child-sharing plan. He says since we have equal responsibilities, he shouldn’t have to pay me support. Is that true?”

A: It depends. Unless you both have the same after-tax income, one parent will have an obligation to pay the other. Timeshare is only one of many factors that is used to calculate child support. Other factors are earnings, tax exemptions and deductions, and whether either of you is supporting other minor children. You can consult with our attorney to get an estimate of how much support would be due, and then decide whether to ask the court to order child support.

Q: “When our son was 13 years old, his mother and I agreed he could come live with me full time, and we agreed that I would stop paying child support to her. Our son is now in college, and I received a notice that I owe five years of unpaid child support, plus interest, to his mother. This isn’t fair! What can I do?”

A: If you made an agreement and did not make it into a formal court order, your obligation to pay support continued, even though you were paying all of your child’s expenses while he lived with you. It’s possible that the total amount you owe is double that, because interest is applied at the “legal rate,” which is 10% annually. There are very few ways to get out of such an arrears obligation, but at the Family Law Offices of Carol A. Gorenberg we have been successful in getting these old, unknown obligations reduced to a more manageable amount and payment plan. Call us today for a consultation.

Q: “I am in a much higher tax bracket than my former spouse, and so a much bigger bite of taxes comes out of my paycheck. Is there any way to lower my taxes so that we would have more money left for our children?”

A: There are ways of taking advantage of the differences in tax rates, sometimes saving thousands of dollars in taxes, if one former spouse is also paying spousal support to the other. This is done through a technique called “Family Support” and it requires the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. At the Family Law Offices of Carol A. Gorenberg, we have helped our clients and their former spouses save money on taxes by artfully taking advantage of the options allowed by the IRS. The tax savings is then allocated between the two parents, benefitting the children in both homes. These methods require the expertise of an experienced attorney to consider all the pertinent factors, see if you qualify, and draft an airtight stipulation that meets the requirements of California family law and federal income tax law.

Q: “It is important to me that our children attend college. Will the court order child support paid until they graduate?”

A: Although California law requires a parent to pay child support to the other parent, that obligation ends when the child finishes high school and has attained the age of 18, or the child has not finished high school but has reached the age of 19. Many parents voluntarily agree to continue supporting their child through college, and this is a common agreement to include in a marital settlement agreement or parenting agreement.

Q: “Are there other reasons for ordering support to be paid to an adult child?”

A: Yes, if your adult child is disabled and unable to support him/herself.

Q: “How can I find out if our child support order is too high or too low?”

A: Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you have the right to ask the other parent once a year for his or her tax return and a statement of his or her income and expenses. At the Family Law Offices of Carol A. Gorenberg, we can help you If you need to formally make this request, and then we’ll analyze your information to help you decide whether to ask the court to modify your support order. In most cases, if the income of one of the parties has increased or decreased, it is sufficient grounds to file a request to change the court order.