Saturday, February 9, 2008

Child Support and Spousal Support in California

The following excerpt is a real family law question and answer which was recently published in the local paper, the Temecula Valley News:

Dear Famularo & Associates:
I have a question about child support. My husband quit his high-paying job to take a DJ job at some radio station where they pay him nothing. It's his life dream, I know, but we have four kids and now he wants a divorce. I have always been a stay at home mom and now I have to go to work. I still think he should pay child support, even though he makes next to nothing. We own our own home and it's almost paid off after 28 years of mortgage payments. I don't want to lose the house, too! He wants to sell it and divide the proceeds. I want him to give me the house because he is the one who chose to quit his job and the children and I shouldn't have to pay him any money when we divide our property. What do you think?
NM in Lake Elsinore

Dear NM:
The court in a divorce proceeding has the ability to "impute income." This means that the court can base a support order (either for spousal support or child support) on your husband's earning ability, rather than on his current salary of zero. The law is that a person cannot voluntarily quit his or her job for a lower-paying job. A spouse's first obligation is to pay child support and spousal suport for the benefit of his or her family. If you husband quit his job very within the past month or two, this would probably anger the court, and the judge would calculate your child and spousal support as though your husband continued to earn his high income.If you husband quit his job in the more distant past, the situation becomes more complicated. You would then have to prove to the court that there are still high-paying jobs available in your husband's field that he is qualified to take. This is done by hiring a vocational examiner. This is a job counselor who would examine your husband's education and experience and tell the court what he or she believes your husband's current earning ability is.

The issue of the house is trickier. In deciding the division of property, the court must ensure that all assets must be divided fairly and equally, but you could trade another asset for your husband's one-half equity in the house, such as your interest in a stock or pension plan. If your husband had no way to pay you either spousal support or child support, you could also establish a child support account for security of up to one year's worth of child support. Rather than an actual bank account, you could ask the court to deduct his equity in the home from the money he owes you for child support and spousal support.
-- Famularo & Associates

If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet or Riverside areas of Riverside County, California and have any questions about obtaining a child support order, spousal support order, or if you need additional divorce information, please feel free to contact our office to set up an appointment with a divorce lawyer at Famularo & Associates by calling: (951) 816-9543, or e-mail us at

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