In California the legislature has adopted a formula for child support. It is referred to as the "Guidelines". Several software programs are available to make the calculation. The most significant variables in the guidelines are the income of each party, and the percentage of time they spend with the children. Most attorneys will give an informal estimate to you over the phone. Be mindful these are estimates only based upon the information you give them and their sense of what the court might do in a given situation.
Child Support / DCSS
California has also created a state agency, the Department of Child Support Services, or DCSS, to assist non-represented litigants to both establish and enforce court orders for both child and spousal support (alimony).
An experienced attorney is invaluable when engaged in the process of creating, modifying or enforcing a support order. The Guidelines are contingent on several variables, the outcome related to which sometimes just don’t seem to made sense. For example: Assume one party has a large mortgage expense. This reduces the money they can spend on support right? Wrong. It actually increases the money they have available for support because it gives them a tax deduction. The Guideline formula is applied after the taxes are calculated. If that party were paying rent it would actually help them in the support context. A good family law attorney will instinctively know that.
Another benefit an attorney can provide is to determine how best to present the income to the court. Often profit and loss statements or tax returns are very deceptive. For example: Let’s assume one party owns apartments they rent out. Is the party taking a "loss carry forward" on their tax return for the purchase price of the of the rentals? If they are their entire income may be tax free. This increases their income by about 35% under the Guideline. Whether representing the owner or the person receiving support, expert advice on this issue can be extremely valuable financially.
Finally, the experienced attorney can provide access. The Family Law and DCSS courtrooms are extremely busy. Litigants often wait all day before their case is taken up. An attorney who is known to the Court and to the DCSS will simply have a far better time of it. They should know the DCSS staff, the Judge and the procedures.
Our office has cultivated it’s relationship with the DCSS since the inception of the agency and before. We used to work with a large number of the staff members at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, and often sit as a Judge Pro Tempore in the DCSS Courtroom. We are also well known to all the Judges and the court staff. There is no substitute for a good working relationship.
The Law Offices of Michael J. Smith are located directly
across the street from the Ventura County Court House
789 S. Victoria Avenue
Ventura, CA 93003
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