Hardship Deduction in California
People think it is automatic. You have other children then you get a hardship for those kids in calculating support. Or you get at least ½ a hardship per child. However, there is nothing automatic about it. It is discretionary; findings need to be made as to reason and when appropriate the court needs to give a duration.
Family Code section 4071 deals with financial hardships. Subsection (a) states that
"Circumstances evidencing hardship include the following:
(1) Extraordinary health expenses for which the parent is financially responsible, and uninsured catastrophic losses.
(2) The minimum basic living expenses of either parent’s natural or adopted children for whom the parent has the obligation to support from other marriages or relationships who reside with the parent. The court on its own motion or on the request of a party, may allow these income deductions as necessary to accommodate these expenses after making the deductions allowable under paragraph (1).”
The maximum allowed hardship will be the amount of child support allowed under the guideline based on the obligor’s income. So if guideline comes to $300/m, one full hardship will be $300 and ½ a hardship will be $150. FC section 4071(b).
The courts give these deductions so automatically that they have forgotten the Code mandates that they MUST make findings.
“(a) If a deduction for hardship expenses is allowed, the court shall do both of the following: (1) State the reasons supporting the deduction in writing or on the record. (2) Document the amount of the deduction and the underlying facts and circumstances. (b) Whenever possible, the court shall specify the duration of the deduction.”
Family Code section 4072.
Note that case law has already decided that siblings, parents, and step-children are not entitled to hardship deductions. The way to analyze is to look at the definition of 4071(a)(1): “for which the parent is financially responsible.” As much as a parent may be morally responsible for a sibling, parent, or step-child, he/she is not legally responsible for that person.
Ultimately whether you are entitled to a hardship or not is a factual determination. But much of that determination depends on how your facts are presented to the judicial officer. You want an attorney on your side that (1) knows your facts, (2) knows how to present them, and (3) knows the judicial officers’ likes and dislikes.
For best results go to court with an attorney by your side, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of H. William Edgar for assistance. We handle cases throughout Southern California. Call for a free initial consultation.