I am currently paying $1,200 in child support with joint custody. The mother has no job, thus no income. Where is her responsibility to support our child? She is solely living on what I am giving her. Where is her obligation?
First, let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice law in the state of California. The information in the article is general in nature. You should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction immediately to discuss your options.
Both parents are responsible for supporting their child. A child has an inherent right to the support of his or her natural or adoptive parents. Most states (including California) calculate child support with a formula. The guideline calculation takes into consideration:
- How much money the parents earn or can earn,
- How much other income each parent receives,
- How many children these parents have together,
- How much time each parent spends with their children,
- The actual tax filing status of each parent,
- Support of children from other relationships,
- Health insurance expenses,
- Mandatory union dues,
- Mandatory retirement contributions,
- The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs, and
- Other factors.
If you believe you are paying too much support, you should file a petition to have your child support amount recalculated. In most states a “change in circumstances” is required. I would need to know more about your case to determine if you have had a sufficient change in circumstances. A change in circumstances can be a change in the amount of time you see your child, a change in either party’s ability to pay, increased travel expenses or any other factors courts in your jurisdiction consider.
Additionally, if the child’s mother is voluntarily unemployed it may be possible to have income imputed to her. Imputation of income allows the court to credit what she should be making, if employed. Child support orders and modifications may be based on earning capacity even in the absence of a showing the obligor intentionally and deliberately sought to avoid family financial responsibilities. If income is imputed to her, it is likely your support obligation will go down.
You should contact an attorney who is licensed in California to further discuss the specifics of your situation.
Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.