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What You Need to Know About California Child Support


In the state of California, each parent is expected to provide financial support for any children they might have. It doesn't matter if the parents are married, separated, or even divorced, the same principle applies. Of course, if you are expected to pay child support soon and for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions about the process. Here are some of the basic inquiries and their respective answers:

How is Child Support Determined?

Child support for the state of California is determined by first looking at an individual's income and then going by a strict (and somewhat complicated) formula. First, let's take a look at some of the income consideration. There are various types of income that will determine just how much child support someone is expected to pay.

Income such as the following must be taken into account to determine the amount of support:

  • Wages

  • Royalties

  • Commissions

  • Salaries

  • Bonuses

  • Rents

  • Pensions

  • Dividends

  • Trust Income

  • Interest

  • Workmans' Compensation Benefits

  • Social Security Benefits

  • Unemployment Insurance

  • Social Security Disability Payments

Additionally, many courts will consider income from the ownership of a business or even self-employment income as well. Of course, these income streams are a bit more of a "gray area", so it is going to be up to the discretion of the court regarding this.

How is Child Support Calculated in California?

This is the dominant question for most people involved in the child support issue. Interestingly enough, if you are so inclined to try to figure it out by yourself, there is a formula that you can use. However, it is definitely a bit complicated. The formula is as follows: CS = K (HN - (H%) (TN)).

If it looks complicated, that's because it is, but here's what all of these symbols stand for: First, CS obviously stands for "Child Support Amount", which is what the formula will calculate. K is the combined of both parents that will be allocated for their child support obligations. HN means "High Net", which is the monthly disposable income of the parent who has the higher income. "H%" stands for the approximate percentage that the highest-earning parent has the primary responsibility for the children. TN is the complete net disposable income of both parents.

What About Modifying the Child Support Order?

Of course, one of the other things you might be pondering would be how you would go about modifying this order if, for example, you lost a job, had a demotion, or encountered anything else where you had a loss in income.

However, you should be aware that you can't just voluntarily drop down to paying what you think is fair. If you do that, you could very easily find yourself in arrears very quickly. Rather, what you need to do is show the judge that there has been a "change in your circumstances" after they made the last child support order.

Generally, there are several good reasons why a child support order might need to be updated. Here are some of the most common reasons why there might be a child support modification hearing:

  • The income of either one of the parents or both of the parents has changed significantly.

  • One of the parents has lost their job.

  • One of the parents has become incarcerated.

  • One of the parents has gone on to have another relationship and had another child.

  • There is a significant change in how much time the child spends with either of the parents.

  • The child now has different needs, such as less (or more) costs for education, child care, or education;

  • Some of the earlier factors used to calculate child support have now undergone a change as well.

The good news is that if the parents simply agree to the modified child support order on their own they can simply present it to the change as a stipulation and it will likely become the new order. However, if they cannot agree on the new child support, then a motion for a child support hearing will have to be filed, and this is called a "modification."

Don’t Deal With Complicated Matters Alone

Child support can be a complicated legal process. Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, P.C. is here to answer your questions and guide you through the procedure. If you have questions about your child support case, our team is here to assist you.

Call us at (916) 794-4576 to speak to our child support attorneys today.