The Basics of Child Support in California

As a divorcing parent, it’s natural to have your child’s welfare at the forefront of your concerns. Child support is designed to make sure your children have everything they need in terms of their health, education, and general wellbeing. You may have heard about child support before, but how does it actually work in the state of California? Let’s go over the basics.


What is the purpose of child support?

One of the main underlying principles behind child support is that both parents have a mutual responsibility to support their children, even if they are separated or divorced. In California, courts will typically factor in the state’s comparatively high costs of living and raising children. They will then come up with a fair amount, based on the earnings of both parents and the time they share with their children, that will adequately cover the child’s needs in a timely manner.


How is child support calculated?

California child support is calculated based on a complex algebraic formula. The calculations will use specific information about you, the other parent, and your child to come up with a dollar amount. The final result will take the following questions into consideration:

  • What is your gross income? What is the other parent’s gross income?
  • How much time do you each spend with each of your children?
  • What childcare expenses do you each have to pay?
  • Can you claim any income tax deductions (like mortgage interest)?
  • What are your mandatory payroll deductions (like health insurance and pensions)?

The resulting amount is called the “guideline amount.” The judge must order the guideline amount of child support that was calculated by the formula, unless there is a good reason to adjust the amount. The assigned payments will normally last until the child turns 18.


Is there more to the guideline amount?

The guideline amount is also the baseline amount of child support, meaning parents may be ordered to pay more in the form of child support add-ons. Add-ons can be mandatory, like ones used to cover employment-related childcare costs and your children’s uninsured health care costs, or they can be discretionary, like when a child has special medical or educational needs.


Can child support be changed?

If your circumstances change—for example, if you lose your job or your income changes—you may be able to request a child support modification. Your attorney will have to file a request with the court and prove a substantial change in circumstances.


Whether you’re an algebra expert or you’re mathematically challenged, you will still need professional legal assistance to handle your child support calculations. A qualified family lawyer can assist you with the complex formula while making sure the court understands all of the relevant factors in your case. The Grey Legal Group can help you reach a fair resolution to your child support dispute. Give us a call to speak with an attorney with comprehensive knowledge of the California family court system.

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The Grey Legal Group

At The Grey Legal Group, we believe in helping all families with their legal needs so they can be protected on your journey back to a calmer, happier place of stability. Whether it is divorce, child custody, guardianship, domestic violence, or adoption, we have seen it all before and we can help you through it. With the legal knowledge and experience we bring to the table, we will be certain to find the best and most efficient solution to your situation.

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