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What is a Summons and Complaint in a child support case?

When a California couple reaches the end of their marriage and children are involved, they will likely disagree on many factors. Once the child custody is determined, it is important to decide how much the child support payments will be. While most people are undoubtedly familiar with child support generally, the basics can sometimes be confusing. As they deal with the emotions that arise during a divorce, worrying about technical details can add stress to the situation.

The Summons and Complaint is an important part of the child support process. The Local Child Support Agency will file the Summons and Complaint for child support. It will then be sent to the parent from whom child support is requested. The parent's response must be made within 30 days of the service date.

To respond, the parent can do one of the following: file an answer; sign a stipulation; or hire a lawyer. If the parent does not agree with the proposal, they must file an answer. A failure to respond within 30 days will result in an amount being set by the court using the available information. If the court does not have any information regarding the parents' income, it will use presumed income to formulate an amount. With a stipulation, the parent will simply agree to the proposed amount and the LCSA will create an agreement based on the child support guidelines. The court will then approve the agreement and the parents do not need to go to court.

For people in the middle of a divorce, a legal professional can be helpful. Responding to the Summons and Complaint can be complex, and either party might have viable reasons to disagree with the proposed amount. To properly object or negotiate a Summons and Complaint for child support, having legal assistance may be useful.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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