During divorce proceedings in California, you and your former spouse will have to meet and make some difficult decisions. You will have to discuss how to divide your property, stocks, and other assets – and if you have children, you have to discuss child support and custody. What happens if one parent cannot afford to pay child support? Can you make an agreement to waive these agreements in California?
The California Family Code and Child Support Waivers
Under the California Family Code, parents who are seeking a divorce must contribute to their children’s support if they are under the age of 18 or an adult child under age 19 who is still in high school and not self-supporting. The court may order one or both parents to contribute to their children’s well-being in the form of child support.
The specific amount of child support will depend on a series of calculations based on the age of the child and the cost of caring for the child, as well as each parent’s assets. Parents must pay this child support until the minor children graduate from high school or reach the age of 19, whichever comes first. Under this law, parents cannot make an agreement to waive this child support.
Children have a constitutional right to care that parents cannot take away. You cannot waive child support in California because it is not in the best interest of the child. Children are dependent on their parents for care until they become adults, and this support requires money. If you decide to waive your child’s support, you are waiving the care and the best interests of your child and denying his or her constitutional right to support.
Why Would a Parent Want to Waive Child Support?
The restriction on waiving child support is important for the long-term and overall care of the children, but parents may have numerous reasons why they want to waive this responsibility. Some parents simply cannot afford child support payments as ordered by the court. Other parents want to come to a divorce agreement as quickly as possible and believe that child support agreements would take too long to complete.
Some parents may believe that if they request child support from their spouse, their spouse will want to increase the amount of custody they have over their children or they will want to decrease the spousal support they provide. In addition, some parents believe they can make agreements between themselves that if one person does not pursue child support, the other spouse will not seek primary custody of the children.
What Options Do Parents Have for Child Support?
Even though you cannot completely waive your duty to pay child support, you and your spouse can still make an agreement for a lower child support amount. California provides guideline amounts that help guide child support agreements and courts will often order you to pay this baseline amount if you do not make a request for higher or lower child support.
The courts will take into account your and your spouse’s income, the amount of time each of you spends with your child or children, and the age and special needs of each child when making the support calculations. To request a lower child support amount, you will have to write the agreement out and submit it to the court.
In this agreement, you will need to explain how the parent receiving child support would make up the difference between the payments and the baseline amount. You will also need to acknowledge that you are paying under the baseline amount.
Divorce is not an easy process, especially when you have children. If you need assistance with your divorce proceedings in California, contact a family lawyer as soon as possible to advocate for your rights.