Most people are unfamiliar with California’s child support laws—and that’s okay, because most people haven’t had to deal with them. Unfamiliarity aside, there are several myths floating around about child support in California, and if you’re going through a divorce with children, you need to know what’s true… and what’s not.
5 Myths About Child Support in California That You Likely Believe
Your Stockton divorce attorney will walk you through the ins and outs of California child support law and answer all your questions. In the meantime, be on the lookout for these five myths.
California Child Support Myth #1: I Can Stop Paying When My Child Turns 18
While some kids turn 18 after their senior year in high school, many become legal adults while they’re still in high school. If your child is a full-time high school student who lives with a parent, child support is still due—even if he or she is over the age of 18. A child support obligation ends when the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.
Child support also terminates if the child gets married, joins the military, becomes emancipated, or passes away.
California Child Support Myth #2: The Court Must Follow California’s Child Support Guidelines
Typically, the courts follow California’s child support guidelines. However, if there’s a legal reason to deviate and the court feels it’s necessary, the judge in your case may make an exception. Some reasons the court can make exceptions to the child support guidelines include:
- Both parents agreeing on a different amount that is still fair for everyone involved
- When one party’s income is so high that the child support guidelines would provide far more money than the children need to share in their parents’ lifestyle
- When one party is not contributing to the children’s needs at a level that’s fair for the amount of custodial time they have
- When parents have different custodial arrangements with different children
- When both parents share equally in the time they spend with their children, but they don’t share equally in terms of financial support
- When children have special medical or other needs
- When children have more than two parents
California Child Support Myth #3: It’s Okay to Keep the Kids if Your Ex Doesn’t Pay Child Support
Regardless of your ex’s payments—whether they’re late, short, or even non-existent, you can’t deny him or her visitation with your children. If your ex isn’t paying child support, talk to a Stockton child support lawyer who can help; don’t withhold your children, because that can be a crime… and it can backfire on you when the judge in your case changes your custody agreement.
California Child Support Myth #4: You Don’t Have to Pay for Health Insurance if You Pay Child Support
In the state of California, every child support order has to include a provision on medical support. Medical support is independent of child support, which means one or both parents must provide their children with health insurance (as long as that insurance is available at no cost or at a reasonable cost).
Under the law, “health insurance” refers to medical, dental, and vision coverage.
California Child Support Myth #5: You Don’t Have to Pay Private School Tuition if You’re Paying Child Support
Whether or not you have to pay private school tuition is at the court’s discretion. If your children have been attending private school instead of public school, the court may order a certain amount of additional child support to cover the tuition.
However, that doesn’t mean you can insist that your kids begin going to private school after the divorce, unless there are exceptional circumstances (like you’ve moved to a neighborhood with a terrible school out of necessity, and you can show that your children won’t thrive there). Even when there are special circumstances, though, the choice on whether to order additional funds for private school tuition is in the judge’s hands (unless you and your ex-spouse can reach a fair agreement on your own).
Do You Need to Talk to a Family Lawyer in Stockton About Divorce or Child Support?
Call us at 209-910-9865 or contact us online for a free divorce consultation with an experienced attorney. You don’t have to do this alone—we’re here to answer your questions and help you begin moving forward with your life.