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California Child Support Overhaul: What You Need to Know

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Child Support

There are some relatively big changes that are occurring with the Child support laws and framework in the late Summer of 2024.

If you have current support orders, and/or are intending to seek either to obtain for the first time or modify a child support order, these changes may be relevant to you.

This post is not an exhaustive list of all changes which are presently and/or will be occurring and a full discussion regarding the changes and their potential impacts would best be had with a licensed California attorney who practices Family Law.

Below are some selected changes which are presently being rolled out beginning on September 1, 2024, but this is not an inclusive list of all changes which have occurred and will occur soon.

Changes to Support Calculations:

Presumed Income Imputation Is Being Replaced with Default “Prove Up” Hearings:

Historically, where a support order is needed, the Party seeking that order has been able to obtain an order based on the “presumed income” of the payor in scenarios where there is either no appearance by the payor, a default, and/or no present evidence regarding present earning capacity for the payor. The recent changes in this aspect of the law which are coming into effect on September 1, 2024, will impact the ability for a Party seeking to obtain a support order or modification thereof from the Payor based on “presumed income”.

The new requirements will be effectively requiring “prove-up” hearings where the party moving to impute income on the Payor must now file a motion for judgment and attend a “prove-up” hearing to demonstrate and prove to the court that the assertion of imputed income is proper. Furthermore, while this is not specific to this scenario of a default and presumption of income, there has been no change to support calculations where the calculation is based on actual income versus presumed income.

This change essentially results in a higher bar for the party moving to obtain a support order or modification thereof where the basis for imputation of income is based on presumed rather than actual income of that Party sought to be the Payor. As a result of this change, now more than ever, it would be best to seek the assistance and advice of a licensed California Family Law attorney to assist you with obtaining any child support order or modification, especially after September 1, 2024.

“Low-Income Adjustments” Have Been Increased:

The new laws also effect changes to the “low-income adjustment” that the Court is able to make when making child support orders. These changes are also effective as of September 1, 2024.

The Court has already been capable of doing this, their discretionary authority has simply been expanded by these changes. The rebuttable presumption of a downward adjustment in support if net monthly income falls below a threshold established under law already existed as stated, it’s just been expanded by the legislature to allow even more downward adjustments to be made by the Court.

This presumption is triggered when net income falls below gross full-time minimum wage and there is now more latitude for the Court’s to deviate from the State Guideline Support calculations and to allocate support and coordinate multiple child support cases involving same obligor/payor in same county. Additionally, If, after applying low-income adjustment, support still exceeds half of net income, the Court can now reduce amount until it equals 50%.

Health Insurance Is No Longer Required:

Another surprising change is that Health Insurance is no longer required as an inclusive aspect of a child support order. This is specifically in the context of where a parent does not have the financial means to obtain and afford health insurance coverage but is still a shift from the prior law. This is a rather large change in the traditional framework and is likely to cause significant distress in scenario’s where the recipient of support is unable to pay for health insurance coverage, and there’s no longer a requirement for the supporting party to maintain health insurance coverage under the child support orders and guidelines.

Conclusion:

These changes and further changes to the existing support laws and framework could have a substantive impact on your present or future child support orders. Due to the “newness” of these laws and the impact these changes may have, it is important to discuss how these changes may impact your existing or future child support orders with a licensed California Family Law attorney.

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