If you are married and are seeking a divorce in California, you must file a Petition for Dissolution form FL-100, the first step in a divorce proceeding. It takes a minimum of six months from the date of service of the Petition to have a divorce finalized and when children are involved, it frequently takes much longer. In the meantime, you need money to pay utility bills, put food on the table and purchase school supplies. When you and your spouse are living separately, the money you counted on to take care of your children’s needs may have been cut drastically.
Immediate Steps to Take
Filing for a divorce does not automatically trigger a temporary child support order. You will need to complete and file a Request for Order FL-300. The court will return the papers to you and set a court date. You have 16 days before the court date to serve the papers to your spouse (plus five days if you choose to serve by mail), and your spouse has nine days prior to the court date to return the packet to the court.
Because it is time-sensitive and complex, it is essential to get help from a knowledgeable California family law attorney from the beginning. An incomplete or incorrect form can cause a substantial delay at best, or an unsuccessful outcome at worst.
Court sessions for requests for temporary child support are usually short and seldom last more than 20 to 30 minutes. Once the request is approved by the judge, it is often retroactive to the date it was filed, meaning that you will receive child support going back to the day you filed an FL-300 form with the court. If there is no response, the court can choose to make a decision without taking into account the situation of the spouse who was served.
Temporary child support remains in effect until finalization of the divorce.
Temporary to Permanent
Parents are encouraged to come to an agreement that is fair, equitable and ensures that children have financial security. That process can happen while temporary orders are in place and become part of the marital settlement agreement (MSA).
It is expected that both parents assume some financial responsibility for their children, based on the earnings of each parent, how many children are supported and parenting time. Child support is based on California’s child support calculator, which estimates how much child support will be ordered. “Permanent” doesn’t always mean that it is unceasing or unchanging. In cases where there is a substantial change in a situation, child support may also be modified.