If you’re a child or a teen whose parents are going through a divorce, you might have fears that you won’t be taken care of. You might worry that your basic needs won’t be met if you’re no longer living with one of your parents. But the truth is that both parents are legally responsible for taking good care of you and meeting your needs.
In fact, when a couple goes through a legal divorce, one or both of them are required to pay child support in the form of a monthly financial stipend. According to the Judicial Branch of the California State Government:
Child support is the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay every month to help pay for the support of the child (or children) and the child’s living expenses.
Essentially, both parents are responsible for meeting the financial needs of their children, which child support aims to address. However, if one parent fails to pay child support, those missed payments are not enforced unless a court of law is involved. For instance, when parents separate, a parent must request to establish that he or she is the biological parent of a child and then ask the court to prepare an order for child support. There can’t be any legal enforcement of missed child support payments without this.
If you’re a child or teen, you should know that child support payments typically continue until you are at least 18 years old. Sometimes, child support payments can continue until you are 19, if you are still in high school full time, living at home, and not working.
Either parent can ask the judge to make a child support order whenever there is a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, and in other more complicated cases. You should know that the courts try to make it as easy as possible for parents to make meet this requirement. For instance, in the state of California, every county has a family law representative that will provide parents with the following free services:
- prepare forms
- explain court procedures for obtaining and changing child support responsibilities
- calculate the amount of child support
- explain how the court makes child support decisions.
Furthermore, a local child support agency can help parents obtain and make changes to the support their child is already receiving. Or if a parent has failed to pay child support that agency can help with retrieving unpaid child support payments.
Plus, it’s not just money that’s included in child support, one or both of your parents need to provide medical coverage (including vision and dental) too. Legally, every child support order requested in a court room needs to include medical support. This means that the court will order one or both parents to provide health insurance for the child as long as it is available at a reasonable cost.
If you’re a child or teen watching your parents separate, you’re likely experiencing a range of intense emotions. It’s important to know that at the very least your basic needs will be taken care of. Your physical, emotional, and psychological health are legally protected by California courts.
And if you’re still concerned about your well being during this time, contact an adult you trust to help you with getting in touch with the family law representative in your area. You can look up the family law facilitator’s office here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-facilitators.htm