If you’ve ever been a parent, you know there are many responsibilities and rights that come with the title. For instance, parents must make many important decisions regarding their kids’ lives that include:
- where the child will live
- what school they will attend
- when medical care is appropriate, and
- what religion they will practice.
These are constitutionally protected rights and they generally cannot be taken away from the parents unless it can be proven that they are unfit.
Another parental right is to a child’s income. Most parents allow their children to keep his or her earnings. However, according to California Family Code § 7500 parents also have the right to such wages. But there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, a child’s income may not be available to parents if:
- The parents have exploited, neglected or abandoned the child, and the child has brought suit to be freed from parental control.
- The child’s income is the result of his or her special talent or athletic ability (a child star or athlete).
- The child’s income is the result of a gift or inheritance.
A parent’s most important responsibility is to support their child. They are legally obligated to provide their children with the necessities of life. Such necessities include:
- shelter, and
- medical care.
According to Family Code § 4053 parents are also required to support their kids according to their ability and situation in life (i.e. their standard of living). This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of both parents and applies to the children’s adoptive parents as well.
Even if a child’s parents are not married they are still responsible to support their children. If parents are unmarried or divorced, and they cannot agree on how much each should contribute toward the support of their children, the courts may be called upon to decide. One parent, or the child through a guardian ad litem, may bring an action against the other parent to enforce the duty to pay child support.
In the alternative, the county in which the child resides may proceed on behalf of the child to enforce the child’s right of support against a parent who fails to provide it. A judge may order one parent to make specified payments to the other or child support. The court’s authority to order a parent to pay child support or to enforce such an award includes any of the following tools:
- a writ of execution
- a wage garnishment
- civil contempt proceedings, or
- criminal prosecution.
All of these provide good reason to have an experienced attorney to handle the matter in family court on behalf of a child in need.