How is Child Support Calculated in California (CA)

CA Paralegal Services Divorce Mediation and Child support

Title: Understanding Child Support Calculation and Related Inquiries

  1. Child Support Calculation Process:
    In California, child support is determined through a standardized methodology known as the child support guideline. This formula is employed to ascertain the appropriate amount of child support. In cases where parental consensus on child support cannot be reached, the presiding judge relies on the guideline calculation to determine the support amount. Typically, absent exceptional circumstances, adherence to the guideline amount is obligatory. The calculation considers various factors, including:
  • Parents’ income or earning capacity,
  • Other income sources,
  • Number of children from the relationship,
  • Allocation of parenting time,
  • Tax filing status,
  • Support obligations from prior relationships,
  • Health insurance premiums,
  • Mandatory union dues,
  • Retirement contributions,
  • Special hardships endured by either parent.

Additionally, child support may encompass provisions for:

  • Childcare facilitating parental employment or job training,
  • Uninsured healthcare expenses for children,
  • Travel costs related to visitation,
  • Educational or special needs expenses for the child(ren).

It’s crucial to note that personal living expenses, such as rent, utilities, or individual obligations, do not factor into the child support calculation and are not considered by the court. Individuals can utilize the public guideline calculator for self-assessment purposes.

  1. Retroactive Child Support:
    A petitioner may be eligible for child support from the date of filing their case, provided they serve the other parent within three months of initiating the legal action. The court may also stipulate the commencement date for child support, considering factors unique to the case.
  2. Retroactive Modification of Child Support:
    Modifications or terminations of child support cannot retroactively alter amounts due before the submission of pertinent paperwork for modification or termination, as per Family Code §3651(c)(1).
  3. Termination of Court-Ordered Child Support:
    Court-ordered child support typically ceases when the child:
  • Marries or enters into a domestic partnership,
  • Passes away,
  • Becomes emancipated,
  • Reaches the age of 18 and is not a full-time high school student,
  • Reaches the age of 19,
    whichever event occurs first. However, parents may mutually agree to extend support beyond this period, and the court may mandate continued support for a disabled adult child who lacks self-sufficiency.

Check back to find out what type of expenses child support is meant to cover.