People often compare child support and family support but are unclear as to the differences or benefits of each. If you have filed for a child and spousal support order in California, you may want to combine them into a single family support order. A People’s Choice can help you complete the forms you need to file with the court to get such an order.

California Family Law Code section 4053 requires both parents to provide financial support to their children. The child support obligation is mutual and is based on each parent’s ability to pay, their net disposable income, and the amount of time they spend with the child. California law presumes that the primary custodial parent already contributes a significant part of his/her resources on the child.

“A People’s Choice ran a report so we could see how a judge would calculate child support as compared to family support. The report was extremely helpful for my soon-to-be ex and I to determine which was more beneficial in our particular situation.” Terrance H.

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How California Determines Child Support

A complex formula is used to calculate guideline child support. Three common computer programs used to calculate support include Dissomaster, CalSupport and X-Spouse. All programs use the California formula which considers factors such as the parent’s tax filing status, net disposable income, the amount of parenting time each parent has with the children, and child support add-ons when calculating guideline support.

California child support laws place a direct correlation on the amount of time a parent spends with a child and his/her child support payment obligation. A parent who spends more time with a child will have a greater child support need. Unfortunately, when child support and parenting time is connected, parents with poor motives try to use custody and parenting time to game guideline child support payments and add-ons.

A child support order will last until a child turns 18-years-old or graduates from high school (whichever occurs first). The court may order guideline support to be set at a different amount other than the mandatory minimum. Parents can also ask for the court to set guideline support below the recommended minimum.

California Family Support Overview

When you compare child support and family support, you need to understand that California family support laws allows child support and spousal support to be characterized together. Both amounts are combined into a family support amount. This allows the payee to send one payment for both forms of support. The court order does not specify how much of the family support order is for child or spousal support. A big difference when you compare child support and family support is that family support is deductible for purposes of California State tax laws.

Compare Child Support and Family Support Orders

As mentioned above, a key difference between child and family support orders is that one is tax-deductible while the other is not. Family support payments can be deducted from income taxes (state and federal). However, family support orders have experienced challenges from the IRS in regards to support deductions. Consult with a tax advisor to confirm whether your family support payments can be deducted from your gross income for tax purposes.

Contact us for more information on the forms you need to get a family support order in California. We have experienced staff ready to help you compare child support and family support calculations and offer you the needed tools to understand the benefits of both.

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