Child Support in California
Child support in California is the amount of money that a court orders one parent to pay to the other parent every month to provide support for their child. California provides guidelines for the calculation of child support which takes into consideration the ratio of time each parent spends with the children and each parent’s income. Under California law, child support payments usually continue until the child:
- Marries or registers a domestic partnership
- Is emancipated
- Turns 18 and is not a full-time high school student, or turns 19, whichever occurs first.
Parents may agree to support a child for a longer period of time. If a child is disabled, the court may also order that both parents continue to support that child when he or she becomes an adult, if they are unable to support themselves.
For matters of child support, California follows a statewide guideline which is generally calculated using a program called Dissomaster. It is based on the actual income of the parties and the amount of time each has physical custody of the children. Support is normally based on actual current income, but if a court finds that a spouse has voluntarily reduced income when employment at a higher level is available, support can be based on that spouse’s ability to earn income.
Many variables are taken into consideration when calculating guideline child support in California, and the process can be quite complex. Although parents can agree on a “non-guideline amount” between themselves, if parents can’t agree on child support, the judge will decide the child support amount based on the California child support guideline calculation. The guideline calculation depends on:
- Monthly earnings of each parent (or earning capability)
- Amount of other income each parent receives
- How many children the parents have together
- How much time each parent spends with their children
- Each parent’s tax filing status
- Monthly support received for children from other relationships
- Health insurance expenses
- Mandatory union dues
- Mandatory retirement contributions
- Costs of daycare and uninsured healthcare costs
- Other factors
- The parties are fully informed of their rights concerning child support.
- The amount is being agreed to without coercion or duress.
- The needs of the children will be adequately met by this order.
- Neither parent is receiving public assistance for these children and no application is pending.
- No change of circumstances is needed to modify the order to guideline.
California Child Support Services
If the parties agree on a support amount, they can file a Stipulation and Order in their case without having to go through a formal hearing. If the parent seeking support is receiving public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF), the local Department of Child Support Services will automatically start a child support case against the other parent. This agency will also have to approve any order for support in a divorce or legal separation proceeding and they will collect your support for you.
**All motions or responses include a comprehensive supporting declaration.