“If mom is not working, no child care,” insisted Deputy District Attorney Roye Randall of Los Angeles County at the pre-hearing interview of a mother of three, seeking modification of child(ren) support from the father through the County of Los Angeles Child Support Services Department.
Mandatory Child Care
Related To Employment:
The mother, as the other parent represented by this Author, in the proceedings for modification of child(ren) support before Department 2G, Com. Anthony B. Drewry presiding, (Com. H.M. Webster retired in April 2009) against the father as respondent, was willing to split monthly children care costs of $1,056.00 (at $88 per week per child).
But the father objected to child care costs and yet asserted that mom should be working. But mom has three children, 10, 9, and 7 years of age, and a fourth child, 1 year old, with another partner, who is living with mom and the four children.
With four young children, mom is a full time homemaker without time to look for work, nor study, nor train for work, nor actually work. Should the rule on child care costs be changed to provide child care costs to allow mom to look for work and hopefully find work?
Indeed, Section 4062(a)(1) of the Family Code provides for child care costs as mandatory add-on, if “related to employment or reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills” of a parent.
Pros and Cons On Changing
Child Care Rule:
The proposed change in child care costs rule is for the non-custodial parent to provide child care costs to allow the not-working custodial parent to look for work for a reasonable length of time.
Otherwise, the rule perpetuates the status quo, with mom unable to pursue her work or career development, and dad liable for more non-custodial parent’s basic child support according to the Family Code guidelines.
If mom is able to work and earn income, she would be able to contribute to child care costs. And dad’s basic child support payment would be lessened due to mom’s income according to the guidelines.
On the contrary, if the rule of no child care costs for a non-working mom is retained, mom would be a better child caregiver than any other care-provider unrelated to the child. And the dad would not be burdened with paying child care costs in addition to the basic child support payment.
The guideline formula for computing basic child support is stated as an algebraic formula in Family Code Section 4055(a), as: CS=K[HN-(H%)(TN)]. CS= child support amount; K= amount of income to be allocated for child support as stated in Family Code Section 4055(b)(3); H%= percentage of time the high earner parent has or will have physical custody of the child, compared to that of the other parent; and TN= total net monthly disposable income of both parties.
As a matter of practice, California family law courts arrive at the basic and additional child support payments by using the DISSOMASTER software, where relevant entries from the Income and Expense Declaration of each parent are entered, pursuant to standards contained in California Rule of Court 1258 (renumbered Rule 5:275).
After the formula child support is computed, the court may deviate from the formula amount of support by considering one or more of the five codified factors of: (1) parties’ stipulation to a different amount of child support; (2) deferred sale of family residence whose rental value exceeds mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes; (3) parent’s extraordinary high income and formula amount of support exceeds needs of the child; (4) non-contribution to needs of the child commensurate with the parent’s custodial time; and (5) special circumstances causing application of the formula to be unjust or inappropriate, stated in Family Code Section 4057(b).
Mandatory and Discretionary
Add-ons To Child Support For
Family Code Section 4062(a) states the two (2) mandatory add-ons to child support, as “(1) child care costs related to employment or to reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills” of a parent; and “(2) reasonable uninsured health care costs for the children.”
And the two discretionary add-ons under Family Code Section 4062(b) are: “(1) costs related to the educational or other special needs of the children;” and “(2) travel expenses for visitation.”
The aforesaid add-ons are considered additional support for the children; and such child care costs may be apportioned one-half to each parent, or a different apportionment, if requested by either parent, in proportion to their net disposable incomes, pursuant to Family Code Section 4061.
Whether mom or a custodial parent can get child care costs pursuant to Family Code Section 4062(a) and (b) depends on whether the child care costs are mandatory or discretionary add-ons to basic child support.
As mandatory, the Family Law Judge or Commissioner has no discretion not to grant child care costs related to employment or necessary education or training for employment skills for a parent and uninsured health care costs for the child
As discretionary, child care costs related to educational or other special needs of the children and travel expenses for visitation, the Judge or Commissioner may decide one way or the other, as long as no abuse of discretion is committed.