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When does child support start in California?

While divorce is an inevitable reality in life for some Californians, a portion of the basics with the process can lead to confusion. Most will have an understanding about child support, but there are nuances in most subjects, and child support is no exception. As the divorce moves forward, understanding child support is of paramount importance.

Parents must provide for the child's financial needs. The court, however, is not able to enforce the obligation until there is a child support order. A parent is required to request that the court make an child support order. This order will establish paternity, and request that there be child support. The child will generally be supported until age 18. If the child is still in high school full time, resides at home and is unable to support him or herself, it can continue until age 19.

Either parent has the right to ask for child support if it is a divorce, legal separation or annulment. Unmarried parents can request a petition to establish a parental relationship and child support. If there was domestic violence for parents whether they are married or not, there can be a request for child support. And there can be a petition for custody and support of minor children if the parents have agreed on paternity or are married and do not want to legally separate or divorce. The local child support agency (LCSA) can file a case and request that there be an order of child support.

Although most parents will be invested in the future of their children and will want to do whatever is necessary to help and care for them, child support can still be a topic of dispute. Before getting into how much will be paid and other factors after the order has been made, understanding how child support starts is also a major part of the process. From the time the decision is made to divorce, having legal help from an experienced divorce lawyer is key.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Child Support -- How Child Support Starts," accessed Jan. 6, 2018

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