Health Insurance and California Child Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

best divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIf you take a closer look at the California child support orders, you can usually note that they have the cost of health insurance factored into the child support number’s guideline. While most people are aware of the fact that the health insurance cost has been factored into this guideline, the reason for this action is still unclear on most people. In this blog, we are going to talk about how the Orange County family law courts consider the health insurance coverage in the child support order.

Before we talk about this aspect however, let’s take a look at what health insurance actually is. Health insurance in reality is when your medical costs are covered by an insurance that is paid for by deducting a certain amount from your monthly or yearly pay.

If either of the spouses has a health insurance coverage, the courts are likely to order that parent to continue with that health insurance coverage as long as that insurance is available to the child at no cost or at a very low/reasonable cost. It is important at this point to identify that health insurance is likely to cover not only hospital costs but also costs that are incurred on vision and dental care. Health insurance is often needed to be maintained and the most common way of doing so is by getting an amount deducted from the gross pay that is ordered in addition to the California child support number.

As far as the effect of this order is concerned, it can be termed as one that is equal in its importance to that of a child support order. The family law court has the power to, in case of non compliance of this order, to punish the non-compliant spouse. The fact that child health insurance factor is added in the child support order means that the addition of the health insurance cost coverage of the child will reduce the amount of child support that such a parent would have to pay.

It is important to be able to distinguish the uninsured medical costs from the insured medical cost coverage. It is also worth noting that in case one parent is spending on the costs of the child’s medical care, even though the child has insurance coverage, that spouse is unlikely to receive any kind of reimbursement against those costs. In some circumstances however, the courts can take into account the situation of the case and are likely to award the other spouse to pay the paying parent a reimbursement of 50% of their amount.

Calculating Net Disposable Income for Child Support in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmWhen couples go through an Orange County divorce, the assets and the kids in the divorce are shared between the spouses. The courts usually order one spouse to pay the other, who has the greater share of the child’s custody, the child support amount. This amount is specifically given to be used for the welfare and well being of the couple’s child(ren). The amount of child supports is calculated using the spouses’ net disposable income. There are several considerations that should be taken into account when calculating the net disposable income. Here is a list of the things that affect the amount of net disposable income in child support calculations:

Health Insurance decreases the child support

The deductions for health insurance and their premiums are done from the gross income. The amount of such deductions depends on the number of children you have. Health insurance premiums are factored into the support calculation for each parent.

State and Federal Taxes and their effect on the Net Disposable Income

These are the amounts of taxes you pay on a yearly basis, such as income tax.  What is relevant is the tax filing status of the parties, and that is often dependent on which parent has over 50% custodial timeshare to be able to claim “head of household” filing status.  The tax deductions from your income are proportionate to the way you and your spouse file their taxes. At this point, it is vital to understand that the tax filing status of the spouses should be consistent.

Union dues and Retirements benefits

The mandatory union benefits deductions and retirement’s benefits that come in line with mandatory pension contributions can be deducted by Orange County divorce lawyers when the net disposable incomes are being calculated. If someone only makes voluntary, discretionary  contributions to a 401(k) plan or IRA, these aren’t deductible.

Expenses related to one’s job

In child support calculations, it is not unusual to see the courts allow the parent’s deduction in their net disposable income for expenses pertaining to their jobs. This, however, is only allowed by the court if the parent is able to show that the expenses are important, necessary, and reasonable for the person to classify as expenses on his job. These expenses shouldn’t be mistaken with the business expenses though, that are deducted when the courts are deciding the spouses’ income.

Child custody and child support cases in California are the most contested ones. Even after their  divorce, couples are always looking to get the best for their children. In such cases, it is important to realize that child support calculations can sometimes be complex and seeking the advice and counsel of a family law attorney in Orange County or where you otherwise live is highly recommended.

What Is The Difference Between Temporary And Long-Term Spousal Support In California? (PODCAST)

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child support attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm

Welcome to The Maggio Law Firm’s PODCAST explaining the difference between temporary and long-term spousal support in California and spousal support concepts under California law that any person going through a divorce or legal separation needs to understand.


How Do California Family Courts Determine Child Support? (PODCAST)

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.

Welcome to The Maggio Law Firm’s PODCAST explaining how California Family Courts determine child support.


Should You Fight Your Orange County Child Support Case?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmChild support is the amount one spouse has to pay the other after a divorce or custody case to be spent on the needs of the parties’ child. Child support cases can sometimes be a little complex in nature while most commonly they are contested in courts by both parties rigorously. There are often times though, when a spouse can fight the child support case just because they can, which ultimately causes them a financial setback. Here are instances when fighting a child support case might not be worth it.

The Case For The W-2 Employees That Have An Agreement On Visitation

In the case of those parents that are W-2 wage earners, which means that they are paid through pay check and taxes are automatically deducted from it and such parents have an agreement on the visitation time percentage between each, which can be 50/50 to 10/90, the child support issue is not a difficult issue at all and can be resolved quickly.

The amount of child support in such cases is calculated through computer software, such as Dissomaster and Xspouse, which are based on the statewide formula for child support under California Family Code section 4055.  The program processes the data that’s entered in it and gives an amount of “guideline” child support that should be paid. Such cases are simple and should be mutually decided between the parties and their lawyers instead of going to court.

Self-Employed Income Earners

The case of a self-employed spouse is usually a more complex case, with each spouse having different accounts of the self employed spouse’s income. These cases often end up in Orange County family law courts. The need for litigation in this matter is felt, because child support and its amount depends on the income of the parent and disagreement on the income needs to be resolved in court before the child support amount can be calculated.

Disagreements Concerning The Parenting Schedule

The above two examples also require an agreement or court order on what percentage timeshare each parent has with the child.  The amount of time spent with the child is a major component in calculating child support. The custodial schedule must be either agreed to between the parties or otherwise determined by the court before the amount of child support can be calculated.  The percentage timeshare is determined most accurately by calculating the number of hours that each parent has per year or month and divided by the number of hours in the corresponding year or month.

Can The End Of Child Support Result In More Spousal Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

best divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmGenerally, when the child reaches the age of eighteen and has graduated from high school, child support payments end.  This can be especially worrisome for ex-spouses that have been receiving child support and the end of such support can have a financial impact where the now-adult child is still living in the house. Let’s look at the effect of child support ending on the spousal support (alimony) payments.

Spousal Support Is Different Than Child Support

While both of these types of support are paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce, each of them serves very different purposes. Child support is the payment by one spouse to the other spouse to maintain the child’s health and welfare and necessities of life.  Spousal support, on the other hand, is one spouse’s payment to the other spouse for that spouse to take care of himself or herself from that money.

Can The Spousal Support Be Increased By Courts After Termination of Child Support?

Orange County family laws allow that the party receiving child support spouse can return to the court and ask for an increase in the amount of spousal support if the child support has been terminated, because the termination of child support is generally considered a “substantial change of circumstances” that may justify an upward modification of spousal support. Hence, the spousal support order can be increased by the court on the request of the spouse, unless:

  • The order for the marital settlement or the judgment order by the court makes it impossible to make modifications in the spousal support order
  • The spouse during the court proceedings had waived of the right to receive spousal support or the court had deemed that she can’t claim it
  • If the Judge has already provided an alternative for the phase after the child support ends
  • The spousal support had already run out, expired or been terminated before the child support had ended.

A Guide To Derivative Social Security Benefits And Child Support In California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmDerivative Social Security benefits and its impact on child support is important irrespective of whether the parents are going through a divorce or not. This topic is one that is intriguing and yet not completely comprehended by married or unmarried parents.

This blog is going to focus on disabled and noncustodial parents and what sort of impact social security benefits will have on child support obligations. When someone is suffering from a disability, he or she receives social security disability benefits, and if that person is a parent, there is often another derivative benefit paid for any minor children that they have.

Did you know? Over 2 billion dollars each month are distributed as derivative minor benefit to disabled parents with minor children who number around 4 million.

The Case Of Disabled Parent Who Isn’t The Custodial Parents And Is Obliged To Pay Child Support

Social security benefits are considered as income for child support and thus the disabled parent may have an obligation to pay the child support to the other parent who has custody. The less time the disabled parent has with the child, the more the amount of child support. Such an amount can create a financial difficulty for the parent.

There is good news though, derivative social security benefits can sometimes be paid by the Social Security Administration to the custodial parent directly. This does have a proper process that the disabled parent has to follow. To get this solution, the disabled parent has to notify the custodial parent that he or she receives social security benefits. Then the custodial parent will apply for the derivative social security benefits directly through the Social Security department.

What happens through this is that the amount for Social Security benefits is then credited towards the child support to some extent relieving the disabled parent of that financial burden.

The Case Of A Disabled Parent When The Custodial Parent Refuses To Apply For Derivative Social Security Benefit

It seems unimaginable how someone can refuse to receive something that they are entitled to and yet there are several cases where this is commonly seen. Whether it is because of California divorce or some prevailing bitterness between the parents, sometimes parents with high emotions can see the derivative socials security benefit as an advantage to the non custodial parent and thus refuse to do anything that helps the other.

Orange County family law has anticipated such a problem and has given us a solution to it.  Family Code 4504(a) states that the custodial parent must contact the Social Security administration within 30 days of receiving a notification from the non-custodial parent. The act is meant to reduce illogical fights and excuses of non-cooperation from the custodial parent.

3 Steps To Reduce A Spousal Support Order

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce-attorneys-Orange-County; The Maggio Law FirmSpousal support is often one thing most spouses that pay them hate. While most of these accusations are probably from a rant of an angry spouse fed up of paying spousal support to his or her spouse, there are ways to reduce the amount of spousal support you have to pay over time.

Step 1: Analyzing and Understanding the Order

You should plan and prepare for your modification request beforehand, as simply coming up with a modification request and hoping for the best will likely not accomplish what you are seeking to do.  Your modification request should have good cause if you want it to be entertained and applied.

Not all spousal support orders are the same in California. The first step to reducing the alimony is analyzing your order carefully. When analyzing your order, you can ask question such as:

* Does the order identify a certain standard of living?

* Is the order expanding the reasons for modification?

All these factors have to be considered before you can think of filing a modification request.

Step 2: Look For A Change Of Circumstances Since The Last Spousal Support Order

This is one of the most important steps in reducing spousal support. The court will only make a downward modification of the spousal support order if it sees that there has been a change of circumstances since the last order.

A change of circumstances has many examples such as a reduction in your income, the supported spouse has obtained a job or a better job, or the supported spouse is cohabitating with someone else.  All these situations are an example of the changes that can be shown to the court to justify the court to grant a downward modification in the previous spousal support order.

Step 3: Gathering the Necessary Evidence to Reduce Spousal Support

The first and the second steps are important but can’t make an impact unless they are coupled with the third one. You should use the first and second only after you have gathered evidence for each in the third step. This means that for a claim of downward modification due to a decrease in your income, you should be prepared with proof concerning any change of circumstances.

How is Bonus Income Treated with Regard to Spousal and Child Support in California?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Lawyers Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIf you are a spouse in a divorce proceeding, how can you make sure you are paid a fair and equitable share of bonus income? How can the spouse paying support avoid overpaying? The main issue is that bonus income is discretionary and rarely known until it is paid. If a spouse’s income history for the last calendar year, plus bonus, is tallied and divided by 12, the result is the amount spousal support due. This is a flawed calculation, as bonuses vary and may also not be given every year. However, the spousal agreement remains in place, causing a financial inequity.

To try and avoid a Catch 22 situation, both parties and the family court judge must clearly and openly discuss financial circumstances and all possible variables. The judge, who holds the discretion to design a fair and equitable method to determine what cash is on hand to pay support, is then able to design a relatively balanced approach for payments.

There are cases where this is not done and the spouse paying support ends up in a difficult financial position attempting to juggle payments and their own personal obligations. It is difficult to accurately calculate phantom income and thus it is vitally important to retain an experienced divorce attorney who understands how the system needs to work with such unpredictable numbers and percentages. Both parties are entitled to equity in a divorce settlement.

The California Family Code sections dealing with income earmarked for child support awards are laid out in section 4058 and 4058(1). Section 4064 empowers the courts, based on both parties earnings, if applicable, to make adjustments to include fluctuating incomes, for those who work on commissions. Even with such limited guidelines in place, there is very little case law dealing with this issue. There are three “go to” cases with the most relevance, with the 1990 case of Marriage of Ostler & Smith being the one most often cited in relation to analyzing and presenting the issue of bonus income as part of child and spousal support orders in California.

Marriage of Ostler & Smith is most noted for the judge’s even-handed approach to base support on the husband’s dividends and salary (not phantom bonuses) and determine a percentage of support for each child and the wife. The conclusion was the husband would pay 35 percent of the gross bonus income. The decision was appealed and upheld. Each case is determined based on its merits and the case law may only provide guidelines even if Ostler & Smith is being argued in court.

Determining spousal and child support when one or both partners derives income from bonuses is a complex matter. Since there are only three reported cases in California dealing with this type of situation, hiring an experienced divorce attorney is the best way to ensure an equitable and fair resolution relating to support.

The Importance of the Date of Separation in Divorce Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDo you recall when you and your partner called it quits? For some people, their date of separation sticks out in their mind. Mainly because the decision to part ways resulted from a full-blown fight or your partner was unfaithful, or one of the parties moved out. Whatever your reason was to end things, you will always remember your separation date. Although you may not want to keep that memory intact, when it comes to filing for divorce, the date of separation is quite important to remember.

What Role does the Date of Separation Play?

Knowing the date of separation is important in order to:

  • Ensure a proper division of property for assets acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation
  • Determine the length of time that either party may be entitled to receive or pay spousal support to the other.

1.     Fair Division of Property & Debts

Equalization of property and debts depends on the date you separated from your partner. It can have a significant impact on the sum of money allotted to the partner during divorce settlements. There have been cases where the partner got more money due to the date they separated. The reverse for this is also true. The reason for getting more or less money is also due to the value of shares increasing or decreasing during the time of separation.

2.     Support Payments

The law states that the partner needs to start paying support to their ex on the date they separated. Therefore, knowing your separation date will help disputing couples settle many arguments. What happens when the disputing partners clash on what the exact date of separation is? Look at the next heading to find out.

Figuring Out the Exact Date of Separation

It is helpful for your partner and you need to sit down, with a divorce mediator or your lawyers, to come to an agreed-upon date of separation. The questions that may arise to solve this issue are:

  • Do you remember when you decided to separate?
  • When did you tell your family and friends that you both are not living together or sleeping in separate rooms?
  • When was the last time you had marital relations with your partner?

More questions to determine the date may be asked.  If there is a disagreement between the parties as to the date of separation, that issue would otherwise have to be resolved first in your divorce case in order to be able to determine property division and long-term spousal support issues.