Child Support & Social Security in California

By Teo Spengler

Social Security is more than the check you hope to get every month after you retire. The Social Security Administration operates many of the social welfare programs in the United States, including retirement, death and disability benefits. Social Security interfaces with a divorced parent's child support obligations in several ways, with the potential to increase and decrease the out-of-pocket amount the parent must pay.

Social Security Benefits

Family law courts generally apply state law, since the individual states regulate matters as divorce, child support and spousal support. However, federal law can also play an important role, as is the case with Federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance benefits, commonly called Social Security. The Social Security system provides retirement, disability and death benefits to qualifying workers and their family members. These benefits generally cannot be garnished or attached by creditors under federal law.

California Child Support

In California, each parent has the legal obligation to support his children financially. The parent with whom the children live is assumed to be making a fair contribution; the other parent is ordered by the divorce court to pay monthly child support in an amount based on his income and calculated under the state guidelines. Questions arise as to the role of a noncustodial parent's Social Security income in determining child support.

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Assessing California Child Support

Payments a parent receives from Social Security are separate property and cannot be divided between the spouses as marital property upon divorce. However, these amounts are included in spouse's income to determine child support. Both retirement and disability benefits are included, and a larger income amount generally increases the amount of a noncustodial parent's child support obligation. The periodic Social Security payments may be attached for child support, although they cannot be attached by other creditors.

Credits Against Child Support

In some cases, the Social Security Administration makes payments to a retired or disabled workers' minor children under the Social Security or Railroad Retirement Acts. Any sums paid to the minor children or to the custodial parent on their behalf serve as credits against the noncustodial parent's child support obligation. For example, if a child support obligation is $3,000 a month but the children already receive $1,800 from social security, the parent's obligation is reduced to $1,200 a month. This is not true, however, if the benefits to the children are death benefits. The estate of the deceased parent still owes the full amount of child support for the children.

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Illinois Laws on Child Support of Disabled Children

In Illinois, as in all states, parents are responsible for financially supporting their children. This is true even when the parents were married and are now divorced. Typically, the parent ordered to pay child support must pay until the child turns 18. However, if the child is disabled, either or both parents may be required to continue supporting the child after that time.

Child Custody Rights for Mothers in California

Parents' custody rights vary from state to state. Historically, courts favored mothers when granting custody, but California focuses on the health, safety and welfare of the child. Judges base custody decisions on what is in the best interests of the child, and neither parent is preferred based on gender. Courts look closely at which parent was the primary caregiver, reviewing who took the children to school and doctor’s appointments, picked them up from school, helped with homework and planned daily activities.

Texas Child Support Questions

Child support is the financial assistance paid by one parent to the parent with primary custody of the children after the parents divorce or separate. The Texas Family Code outlines how child support is calculated, when an order can be modified and when the support order terminates. The law also sets forth the procedures for enforcing a support order that goes unpaid.

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