Many couples going through divorce ask us “how is child support calculated in California?” In order to understand how child support is calculated in California, you must keep in focus that California requires both parents to be mutually responsible for the financial support of their child. A parent is obligated to provide financial support to his/her children according to the parent’s situation and station in life. Child support is mandated by law and cannot be waived in a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. If a parent fails to provide financial support to his/her child, he/she may face civil or criminal penalties.

How is Child Support Calculated in California?

So exactly how is child support calculated in California? Child support is calculated using a standard formula to determine the amount of support owed. This standard formula is used to calculate the amount of support that is to be paid. Factors included in the standard formula include the following:

  • The total amount of income earned annually by both parents
  • Both parent’s required expenses including mortgage obligations and property taxes
  • The children in which support is to be provided to for the current relationship
  • Other support paid for minor children from another relationship
  • The amount of time each child spends in a parent’s physical custody
  • Required union dues
  • Health insurance costs
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • Income of a new spouse

A child with special needs may require both parents to provide additional support.

Get help with your Child Support Calculations!

  • or call 1-800-747-2780

Purpose of California’s Child Support Guidelines

Child support is calculated in California by using a defined guideline minimum level of child support for a child. The guideline is set to provide and maintain uniformity in the computation of child support orders. Judges must follow the child support guidelines but can also allow deviations in limited cases.

Child Support Add-Ons

In addition to paying child support, a parent may be ordered to pay child support add-ons. Child support add-ons are additional amounts added to the base guideline support amount to contribute to specified expenses that are for the benefit of the child. Mandatory add-ons include support to cover child support costs related to employment and the reasonable uninsured health care costs for the children.  Discretionary add-on support may be ordered to cover the custodial parent’s costs associated with visitation transportation or the care of a special needs child.

Child support add-on expenses are to be equally shared between the parents. If an equal division of these expenses is not reasonable, the court is authorized to divide the expenses between the parents in proportion to their net spendable income.

How to Obtain a Child Support Order in California

There must be an underlying case in order to get a child support order in California. For example, an underlying case would be a divorce, legal separation or paternity case. If there is no underlying case, you can start a new case for the sole purpose of getting support and custody orders by filing the following documents with the court to begin a child support case:

  1. Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children (Form FL-260);
  2. Summons (Uniform Parentage-Petition for Custody and Support) (Form FL-210); and
  3. Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120)
  4. Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)

Once you have an open case, you will then need to file a Request for Order Motion to schedule a court hearing (this document can also be filed with the initial forms).

Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how child support is calculated in California. We can give you an overview of the process of obtaining a child support order in California and can show you approximately what a California guideline support order would be based on a variety of time-based situations. We can also prepare all required court documents to get a child support order. Call us today at 800-747-2780.

Get help with your Legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!


Was this article helpful? We would love to know your thoughts! If you found this article helpful, please check the LIKE button below. Your feedback helps us plan topics for future articles.