After a divorce, victims of Domestic Violence are often reluctant to seek San Jose child support because of the fear of angering their abuser. Some abusers will attempt to manipulate the victim by falsely offering to send voluntary child support instead of opening a formal case. In the experience of this attorney, these voluntary support payments have never been as much as what the Court would Order, and they usually were not regularly made either.
Child support is to make sure you are able to provide the level of care your child is entitled to based upon the standard of living of both parents. Under California Law, the child (ren) have a right to share in what each parent earns. Letting your ex intimidate you into going without support payments is a mistake.
When a victim of Domestic Violence is filing for child support, the Court can, and usually does if you ask, offer several legal protections. The victim should not have to meet with the abuser. In Court, the bailiff will regularly instruct parties where there has been Domestic Violence to stay apart by literally sitting on opposite side of the Courtroom and not talking before a hearing. Court bailiffs can, and often do, handcuff abusers and send them to jail for their antics in the Courtroom building. The victim’s personal information, such as home and work addresses, can be kept out of Court Records. The standard California DVRO CLETS (Domestic Violence Restraining Order California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) application forms have boxes to check for child custody and support, so abuse victims may seek an Order of protection at the same time as seeking child support and/or spousal support. If you think you will have trouble facing your abuser, please remember that California Law allows you to bring a Support Person and the Judge will be watching what your abuser does in the Courtroom.
If you are seeking public assistance benefits for your child, such as food stamps, cash benefits, or housing assistance, the state of California requires that you file for child support. Tell your caseworker immediately that you are a victim of Domestic Violence to ensure that all safety precautions are taken when the state attempts to collect child support.
As a custodial parent, you should remember that child support and visitation are not connected. A parent has to pay child support even if he is not allowed to see his child. If the relationship had a history of Domestic Violence, the Court may forbid the abuser from seeing the child or require visitation to be supervised by an independent third party. Once a finding of Domestic Violence is made by the Court there can be serious consequences.
If you believe your abuser should not be allowed to visit your child, you should hire experienced legal counsel and cooperate fully with your attorney in gathering evidence that visits are not in the child’s best interests. Your child may need to speak to a psychologist who can testify in Court about the impact of Domestic Violence on the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent.