How is Child Support calculated?
Factors and Considerations when calculating child support in California
Unlike many things in the world of divorce and family law as a whole, the calculation of child support is generally very straight forward. The main responsibility of the parents above any other is that both parents are financially responsible for their child and are required to provide support according to their station in life. Commonly, an order of children support results when a divorce, legal separation or paternity lawsuit is filed. You can also go to the local Department of Child Support Services office if you don’t want to open a divorce, or paternity action for a support order. Child support cannot be waived in a pre or post-nuptial agreement. Parents may stipulate a fair and reasonable support amount in an agreement, but it must be approved by a judicial officer.
There is a standard formula used by California courts to determine the amount of support a parent is responsible required to pay. It is a guideline set to provide for the minimum support each child receives and to create uniformity for support awards across the state. The formula used uses the following factors:
- The total gross income earned annually by each parent (certain income is excluded including Supplemental Security Income (SSI));
- The tax filing status of each parent;
- How much time each parent spends with the child (“timeshare”);
- How many children the parents have together;
- If the parties own a home the mortgage obligation and property taxes;
- The children each parent is required to support in current and other former relationships;
- Health insurance expenses;
- Mandatory union dues; and
- Mandatory retirement contributions.
All of the above factors are input into the program and the program used by the court will provide a guideline support order.
In addition to the guideline support order the court can also make orders requiring the parents to share equally in the daycare costs, uninsured health care costs, and orthodontic expenses. If there is a significant change in a parent’s income or the amount of time they spend with the child, either parent may request a modification of the order. The court may issue an order either increasing or decreasing the order depending on the circumstances in question. A parent’s duty to financially support their children lasts until the child has either reached age 18 or graduated from high school, whichever is later. However, a court may order both parents to continue to support a disabled adult child who is unable to support himself. A parent has to file a motion requesting an order for support to continue past 18 is a child is disabled.