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How Child Support is Calculated in California

In California, child support payments are generally made until the children turn 18, or 19 if the child is still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support themselves. A mother or a father can ask the judge to make a child support order as a part of the following types of cases:

  • Annulment, divorce or legal separation
  • A Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (unmarried parents)
  • Domestic violence restraining order (married and unmarried parents)
  • A Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children (for parents who have signed a voluntary Declaration of Paternity, or are married, or registered domestic partners and do not wish to obtain a legal separation or a divorce)

How is child support calculated?

California has a statewide formula, called a "guideline" for determining how much child support should be paid. If parents are unable to agree on child support, the presiding judge will decide the amount of child support based on the guideline calculation, which is based on:

  • How much money each parent earns or can earn
  • How much income each parent receives from other sources
  • How many children the parents have together
  • How much time each of the parent spends with their children
  • The tax filing status of each parent
  • Support obligations for children from other relationships
  • Expenses for health insurance
  • Mandatory union dues
  • Any mandatory retirement contributions
  • The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health care costs
  • Any other relevant factors

Once the judge has evaluated the circumstance of the case, he or she may require the parents to share in the costs of child care to allow a parent to work or get training for new job skills, or the costs of the children's reasonable health care expenses, traveling for visitation from one parent to another, the children's educational needs, and other special needs of the child.

In order to figure out income to calculate child support, the court will base the child support on a parent's net disposable income. Meaning, the parent's income after state and federal taxes and other deductions. The court may order child support based in part on bonuses, commissions, and overtime or other supplemental income if the court determines that this is a regular source of income. However, income that is NOT counted when determining child support includes income from:

  • CalWORKs
  • General Assistance/General Relief
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

Child support payments will typically decrease as a parent's time-share arrangement increases. To learn more about calculating child support, go to Family Code Section 4050-4076.

When You Should Speak to a Family Law Attorney

Family law centers on marriage, divorce and children. Whether your marriage has come to an end and you feel as if your world is crashing down, or if you need to file a paternity action, modify child support payments or pursue full custody of your children because the other parent is incapable of effective parenting, the outcome of your family law proceeding will undoubtedly have a significant impact on your life.

Whenever you are filing for divorce or dealing with a critical issue involving your children, it's essential that you have an attorney standing by your side, fighting relentlessly for your rights and the outcome that you desire. This is especially the case if you have children.

While you can elect to handle divorce and family law cases on your own, you will have difficulty finding one divorce or family law attorney who would recommend taking such a risk. Since there is nothing more precious than your family, you need an experienced attorney navigating you through the legal waters and towards a successful conclusion.

At Taub & Taub, P.C., our legal team has over 40 years of experience handling the most complex divorce matters including high net worth divorce and bitter child custody battles. Do you need a family law attorney? You bet you do. When faced with an uncertain future that can affect your finances and your family for years to come, you will find your investment well worth it.

To schedule a consultation with one of our Woodland Hills divorce attorneys, please call (818) 839-2415 today!