Understanding Support and Attorney Fees in Redding
Child support is money paid by one parent to the other for the support of their child. The amount of child support is based upon the number of children, the amount of time the children spend with each parent, each parent’s tax filing status, and each parent’s income. This is commonly referred to as “guideline child support.” Either a father or a mother can collect child support, so long as that parent has custody rights to the children. The court only looks at each parent’s pretax income, not the amount of either parent’s expenses (the guideline calculation takes taxes into account).
California law requires that child support be paid before any expenses. Child support may take away a significant part of the paying parent’s income, and must be budgeted accordingly. Except in rare circumstances, California courts must order guideline child support. Child support is payable on a monthly basis until the minor child dies, is emancipated, reaches the age of 18 years and is a high school graduate, or reaches the age 19 if the child continues to attend high school on a full-time basis after his/her 18th birthday, whichever occurs first.
Child support is owed until paid in full. Interest on any child support arrears accrues at the simple interest rate of 10 percent per year.
Spousal support (formerly called alimony) is money paid by one spouse, after the parties separate, to support the other spouse. The court will order spousal support whenever one spouse has a need and the other spouse has the ability to pay spousal support. The amount of spousal support ordered is discretionary. Frequently, if a spousal support order is made, the payer-spouse will probably also be ordered to pay some or all of the recipient spouse's attorney fees.
The goal of spousal support is to try to equalize the net (after-tax) incomes of the parties long enough for the lower wage-earner to become self-supporting. As a rule of thumb, spousal support is usually ordered for a term not to exceed one-half the length of the marriage. However, if you were married for more than 10 years, the marriage is a “lengthy” one. This is a legal term and means that the court’s discretionary powers have limits. Anyone who has a lengthy marriage has the possibility of paying or receiving spousal support for the rest of his/her life. Even if spousal support is ordered for an indefinite amount of time, it can be stopped under certain circumstances. For instance, if the supported spouse remarries, if the supported spouse lives with a member of the opposite sex, or if the support spouse deliberately fails to earn income, spousal support can be stopped by going to court and requesting a modification.
The cost of a lawyer in a family law situation can be difficult to predict. Sometimes, the family law court will order one party to pay some or all of the attorney fees incurred by the other party. Attorney fees may be awarded for various reasons. The most common is financial need. If one party earns more than the other, the family law court has the ability to order the higher-earning spouse to contribute toward the other’s attorney fees and costs. An award of lawyers' fees can also be expected when one party refuses to comply with a court order or fiduciary duties to provide information and documents. The noncomplying party will usually be ordered to pay all or part of the other party’s attorney fees.
Finally, attorney fees can be awarded as a penalty when one party does not act in good faith. The court has discretion over the amount of fees it can order, although it must be fair and reasonable. If you have a divorce or other family law situation, it is best to count on paying all of your own attorney fees and costs. If the court does order the other side to pay for your attorney fees, it may not be enough to pay your entire attorney fee bill. Additionally, even if attorney fees are ordered, they still must be collected.
Ms. Trindade provides clients with regular, detailed bills and invoices. This allows clients to see what work has been done on the case, what amount is owed, and how that is calculated. We work hard to provide excellent value to our clients, to meet our client’s goals as affordably possible.