Do I have to go to court for child support in California?

Child support is a difficult topic for many California parents; in the heat of a divorce or breakup, many parents are often worried about finances and how they will meet their new and existing financial needs. If parents are raising a child, those needs can be quite high. As a result, parents may become anxious about being able to follow California's child support guidelines. Some parents may wonder if they have to go to court in their child support case.

In California, not all parents need to go to court for child support. Parents can avoid court by signing a legal agreement known as a stipulation. In general, if both parents agree on the stipulation, they may not need to go to court. The stipulation itself, in addition to making a formal child support agreement, also establishes paternity. Typically, a child support stipulation will outline the following: the parent paying support is the parent of the child, that parent is willing to pay child support, that parent is also willing to provide health insurance for the child through their employer if it is available and that parent is willing to allow the court to solidify the order without appearing in court.

The content of a stipulation may differ depending upon each unique case. If the parent who receives child support is also receiving welfare benefits, the stipulation may be between the non-custodial parent and the local child support agency. A California child support attorney can offer legal advice regarding stipulations and avoiding court when it comes to support.

In a child support dispute where either paternity or the amount of support is contested, a parent can obtain a court date and will have the opportunity to speak with a judge. In these situations, obtaining legal advice can benefit a parent greatly as they prepare for court and learn more about their rights and responsibilities under the law.