Monthly Archives: March 2014

Child Support – above guideline?

March 13th, 2014

In Washington, DC, parents are in court disputing the appropriate amount of child support to be paid for the parties’ two children.  It gets press (here at the Washington Post) because of the money involved (millions) and because the father, Peter Orszag, is a former Clinton and Obama administration official.

In California, parents usually pay child support based on their incomes, the amount of time each spends with the child, and other relevant factors (including, but not limited to, allowable deductions for property taxes, mortgage interest, and union dues).  The information is run through a calculation which produces the guideline amount.  The formula can be found at Family Code Section 4055.  You can run the numbers (your numbers) here.

The guideline number is presumed to be correct.  However, what happens when the payor parent has an extraordinarily high income?  Family Code Section 4057(b)(3) provides that this is a situation when the Court may deviate from the guideline amount.  The burden is on the high-earner to show that the guideline amount is inappropriate because it exceeds the child’s needs.  The Code fails to define a child’s reasonable needs.

The payor parent may wish to show that the child (children) does not need $30,000 per month to meet his needs (assuming that is the guideline amount).  The payee parent, on the other hand, would contend the guideline amount is reasonable to be sure the child is not transitioning between two vastly disparate home environments (an extreme example: a 1 bedroom apartment to an 8000 square foot single family home).

Before agreeing to any child support order or going to court to establish or modify an order, be sure to speak to an experienced family law attorney who can explain guideline child support and the whens and whys of deviating from the guideline.

Supreme Court Family Law Decision

March 5th, 2014

On December 11, 2013, this blog discussed Lozano v. Alvarez , an international family law case at the Supreme Court.  The Court issued its unanimous decision today.

The Court ruled that the Hague convention’s one-year requirement to file a claim is not equitably tolled (i.e.paused) even if the removing parent  has hidden the child from the non-removing parent.

The case does not decide which parent will get custody of the minor child – that is left to the trial court.  The decision does, however, mean that the mother who left England and moved to New York will be more likely to have her case heard in New York as opposed to England.  (Other provisions in the Hague treaty may suggest that England is the more appropriate forum.)

For additional insight on this decision, please read Scotusblog.

In any international custody case, be sure to speak to an experienced family law and Hague proficient attorney.

(ALL!) NJ Parents Breathe a Sigh of Relief

March 5th, 2014

New Jersey parents can sleep a little easier tonight knowing that one of their own won’t have to pay for their over-18-child-who-would-not-listen-yet sued-them-in-court-for-child-support youngster.  The full story is here.

In California, both parents are responsible for the support of their minor children.  Fam. Code § 3900.  The duty to provide support  “continues as to an unmarried child who has attained the age of 18 years, is a full-time high school student, and who is not self-supporting, until the time the child completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first.”  Fam. Code § 3901.  However, if the child is incapacitated, support may extend beyond the child’s minority.  Fam. Code § 3910.

Divorcing parents can include in their Marital Settlement Agreement a provision to provide for their children’s college expenses (i.e. division of costs and a list of what constitutes college expenses).  If the parties cannot agree, the Court cannot order one parent to pay for college expenses pursuant to the code sections listed above.

If you have a question about child support or the payment of college expenses, please talk to an experienced family law attorney.

Your “friends” are watching…

March 4th, 2014

People today are more and more likely to share things they once kept private.  Or maybe people think it’s okay to share it only with their “friends”.

Dana Snay shared private information that resulted in the loss of her father’s employment law settlement agreement.  Click here for the full story.

The attorney client privilege protects the conversations you have with your attorney (subject to certain exceptions).  If you choose to share your attorney’s advice with the world via Facebook, opposing party may hear about it and opposing counsel may seek to learn more about your conversations under the theory that you have waived the privilege.

In short, when in divorce – keep private matters private.  If you have to think whether or not you should post something (tidbit from your attorney, photo of you drunk on your custody night, or negative information about your soon-to-be former spouse) – don’t post it.