How California Child Support is Calculated

Child support carries certain stigmas in social circles. People look down on the situation, viewing it as two parents who failed to make their relationship work and now one needs financial support in order to raise the child. We’re here to tell you you’re not alone in being in this situation – millions of Americans pay or receive child support payments. It’s a necessary aspect of being a divorced or separated parent and isn’t an indication of how good or bad of a parent either of you is.

We also want to dispel any notion that the court/your spouse is going to “take you for all you’re worth.” There are limits in place for child support payments and California courts actually use a specific formula to determine child support. We want to explore the factors that go into that formula and when support orders can be changed.

Factoring Into the Formula

Before the courts get into child support, officials must first determine a custody and visitation schedule. If one parent has primary custody and has the child most of the time then that parent will often receive support payments. If custody is split evenly or near even then child support payments either won’t be necessary or will only slightly favor one parent.

In a situation where support is owed, the courts will use the same factors for each case. These factors include:

  • Employment income of both parents
  • Government income such as unemployment, disability, social security, or other
  • Spousal support received or paid from this and other previous relationships
  • Disposable income (determined using income minus certain expenses)

These and a handful of other numbers can be punched into a calculator to determine the guideline for your case. The courts will generally go with the exact number produced by the formula or something close to it.

You can actually find a calculator right on the state’s website that provides a ballpark number for you. This number may not be exact but gives you an idea of what you might owe or be owed given your circumstances.

Modifying Child Support

If you feel defeated by the results of your calculation it’s important to remember this is not the end. The court will consider certain requests and circumstances that could alter the final number. On top of that, you’ll have the opportunity to modify that number in the future if the situation between you and the other parent changes or if either of your individual circumstances changes.

For instance, if you have a heavy support burden but end up losing your job or have a sudden steep increase in expenses then you can request a modification. The same can be said if you’re receiving smaller payments but find out your ex got a huge promotion or raise. Court officials won’t consider a change every single time income or expenses change slightly, but if there’s a notable change then you should work with an attorney to get your order modified.

Significant changes in the ability to pay or need to receive child support (including remarriage) will impact your case. At KL Family Law, we’ve handled numerous child support cases and understand the ins and outs of the system. We can help you not only establish your support order but also help you get the order modified down the line. Contact us and let our team assist you in moving forward with compassion and integrity.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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