The information set forth below is provided by divorce lawyers and family law attorneys serving the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet and Riverside areas of Riverside County, California.
Dear Famularo & Associates:
The father of my child got out of prison about a year ago and he was in school for a while. He lives in Washington State and that's where my support order is. He is supposed to pay me $50 a month. I don't even get that. I know he is working for his uncle and living with his parents and that he can pay more. I am a single mother. I go to school and I don't make much money. I need to get my child support order modified and I need to get it enforced. I only want what is fair. Is there anything someone with limited resources like me can do to get this done? I can't afford a child support attorney and the county agency I went to for help was able to get arrears owed to them enforced, but they aren't going to pursue my portion of it because he told them he doesn't work and they took his word for it.
KG in Temecula
Unfortunately, you have a number of problems with your case. You really need to consult with an experienced divorce or family law attorney to sort things out for you. The first issue is that your child support order is in Washington and you live in the state of California. You need an attorney to review your child support orders and to help determine whether a new child support order can be established in California, or whether you have to return to the state of Washington to attempt to increase your child support.
The second issue is that it sounds like your ex is working under the table. If this is the case, and your ex is receiving payments in cash, it is virtually impossible to prove what he is actually earning. I do not know the child support laws in the state of Washington, however, in California the family court would impute income to your ex. This simply means that the family law court would base your child support, not on what your ex is actually making, but on his ability to hold a full-time job at minimum wage. Thus, the court would order him to pay you at least some child support (guideline child support in California would only be about $270.00 per month in a situation similar to yours).
The third issue is that the local child support agency does not seem willing to help you. Normally, in a case where the custodial parent (i.e. the parent who has custody of the child) has limited financial resources, that parent would look to the local child support department to help obtain a fair court order. For whatever reason, the local child support agency does not seem willing or able to help.
Finally, you have limited financial resources. You do not have the funds to hire a family law attorney in Washington, and you probably don't have the ability to travel to Washington to file the court documents yourself and then attend court on your own. The question you need to answer is whether you will be able to collect child support over time to make it worth your while to pursue an increased child support order?
In the state of California, there is a free office at the courthouse, called the court facilitator, who can help you fill out any court paperwork associated with obtaining a child support order. I do not know what resources are available to you in the state of Washington, and even if you were able to get help filling out and filing Washington child support paperwork, it would still require you to travel to the state of Washington for the court appearance.
It seems to me that you need to see if there is some basis to file a new lawsuit in the state of California which will allow California to establish a new child support order. It sounds like you and your ex were never married. If that is the case, you should be able to file a new paternity suit here. If so, you could have the court facilitator in Riverside County help you fill out the paperwork to start a new paternity suit, you could then serve your ex by certified mail, return receipt requested in the state of Washington, and go to court here in either Hemet or Murrieta to obtain a new child support order. Once you get a new child support order, though, you have to enforce it. If your ex is working under the table, this will be difficult to do, and will require the cooperation of the state of Washington Department of Child Support Services.
Famularo & Associates
If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet or Riverside areas and have any family law related issue, including any questions concerning divorce, child support, child custody, visitation, paternity, annulment, legal separation, division of property, domestic violence or spousal support, please call our office to set up a free consultation at: (951) 816-9543.
Otherwise, please visit our websites at Temecula Divorce, Riverside Divorce, or Temecula Family Law