Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Orange County Family Law Blog

Can child support payments be enforced?

After a negotiation or court-ordered mandate, a child support amount has likely been decided. One child's parent is the payer of the child support payments, and the other is the recipient on behalf of their child. However, just because child support has been ordered doesn't mean that the paying parent will pay it in full and on-time. So, what's to be done when your child's support payments aren't coming in?

Because child support amounts are calculated and mandated by the court, they can be enforced. In order to seek enforcement of delinquent or missing child support payments, the receiving parent must seek help by filing a motion with the district attorney. The district attorney will then seek out to meet with the non-paying parent, letting them know there will be consequences for failing to pay child support.

Orange county couple's high asset divorce settlement revealed

Recently an Orange county couple, along with their three children, were the focus of media attention when news broke about the details of a settled divorce decree. The "Real Housewives of Orange County" star has been awarded spousal support, child support and a lump sum asset division from her ex-spouse, according to court documents.

The divorce was initiated back in December of 2017 and just recently wrapped up. Shannon Beador is best known for her role on "The Real Housewives of Orange County," but has been the focus of media attention concerning her divorce settlement. Her ex-spouse has agreed to pay her $1.4 million to "equalize the division of community property," between the couple. Beyond that, child support has been awarded to her to aid raising their three children, totaling $2,935 per month in support.

Review of how we can help with college expenses

Although this post has discussed this topic before, with the latest round of young people in Orange County, California, getting ready to graduate high school in the upcoming weeks, it may be helpful for their parents to review how their divorce or child support orders can help with the financing of college.

As this blog has stated previously, the obligation to provide child support ends in California when a child turns 18 or, if the child is in high school, either graduates or turns 19. In other words, parents do not have an obligation to pay for their children's college tuition and expenses.

Review of California's community property laws

Like a handful of other states, California follows the community property model when it comes to married couples.

What this means is that, when a couple marries, their property fits in to one of three basic pools. Specifically, the property can be separate property which belongs to either one spouse or the other spouse. The property can also be community property, meaning that it belongs to both spouses equally.

Why might a court order supervised visits?

Previous posts here have discussed how courts in California have the authority, at least in limited circumstances, to order one parent to have only supervised visits with a child. There is no checklist that courts use to decide what does and what does not qualify as a reason to order supervised visits. As such, a parent in Orange County who feels that supervised visits are needed, or, on the other hand, feels like they are not necessary, may need to get more information about the applicable child custody laws.

There are some common reasons why an Orange County court may order supervised visits. For one, allegations of domestic violence, against either the child or the other parent, can lead to an order for supervised visits. On a related point, concerns about a parent's drug abuse or some other concern that might make it hard for the parent to care for the child can mean that a court will order supervised visits until such time as the parent can resolve the problem. Even a parent's mental health issue can lead to an order for supervised visits, provided the issue actually affects the parent's ability to care for the children.

What can I do if I suspect paternity fraud?

Usually, unmarried couples who elect to establish a man's paternity outside of court do so by agreement because it is easier, and less time-consuming and expensive, than going through the entire process of establishing paternity.

In fact, signing California's Declaration of Paternity form may keep Orange County parents out of court altogether, such is in a case where they plan to raise the child cooperatively and thus would have no urgent need to obtain orders setting up custody, parenting time and child support.

Bonuses are figured into child support calculations

Many residents of Orange County have the benefit of being in jobs that offer both regular and unexpected bonuses. Sometimes, these bonuses are "just because," while at other times they may be based in some way on job performance. Oftentimes, California business executives and salespeople may even have a detailed plan with their employers in which they are promised bonuses in exchange for meeting certain defined goals or achieving a pre-determined result.

These bonuses can be quite generous. Since a bonus is income that benefits the parent receiving it, a court will consider bonuses when calculating child support. In fact, California law specifically says that a court must consider a parent's bonuses when determining overall income. Income, in turn, plays the predominant role in determining how much child support a parent will pay.

Review of legal separations in California

Residents of Orange County who may not want a divorce have other options available for protecting their rights when things are not going well with their spouses. One such alternative is what is called a "legal separation." In a legal separation, the two spouses will remain legally married. This means that neither spouse is free to validly remarry. On the other hand, it also means that spouses may continue to qualify for certain government and employment-related benefits via their ongoing legal relationship with each other.

Many of the nuts and bolts of a legal separation work the same way as they would in a divorce. For example, a judge hearing a legal separation case can still make orders dividing a couple's property and debts, setting up a parenting plan and establishing child support, among other orders.

Grey cohabitation is an emerging family law issue

Residents of California may have heard about how "grey" divorce, that is, a divorce between a couple who is either at or relatively close to retirement, is becoming more common. Interestingly, the number of couples over the age of 50 who choose to live together without getting married has also been on the rise within the last decade. While the number of cohabitating couples in the country has risen overall, by about 30 percent, the number of adults over the age of 50 who are cohabitating has spiked by about 75 percent, from 2.3 million in 2007 to 4 million in 2016.

About 55 percent of those who are cohabitating over the age of 50 were in a previous marriage that ended in divorce, while another 6 percent of people who were cohabitating in this age group described themselves as separated from a spouse. Another 27 percent said that they had never been married.

Unreimbursed health care expenses

A previous post here discussed the process courts and parents in California should use with respect to unreimbursed medical expenses. Oftentimes, insurance does not pay for all of a child's medical needs, and one or both parents will be left paying some bills out of pocket.

In addition to visits to the doctor, these bills can also include visits to dentists, eye doctors and mental health professionals or other therapists. These bills can really put a strain on an Orange County parent's budget. As such, and as our pervious post mentioned, it is only fair that both parents should contribute to these important and oftentimes very necessary expenses. The first step in doing so is to make sure that the child support order clearly and accurately specifies how uninsured medical and related expenses are going to be allocated.

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