How Child Support is Brought Before the Court: For the Court to have the power to issue a child support order a proper underlying court action must first be filed. For example, if the parents are married, child support can be part of an action for divorce or legal separation. Child support between parents who are married to each other can also be sought through a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children. Non-married parents can seek child support by filing a parentage action. Child support orders may also be sought as part of an action seeking a Domestic Violence restraining order.
Child Support Principles: California law stresses the need for each parent to be financially responsible for the care of their children. Family Code Section 4053 states many of the principles that a court should follow in arriving at a child support order. This Section, among other things, states:
- "A parent's first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent's circumstances and station in life."
- "Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children."
- "Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability."
- "Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children."
- "Child support orders must ensure that children actually receive fair, timely, and sufficient support reflecting the state's high standard of living and high costs of raising children compared to other states."