In California, child support terms are usually based on the state’s Uniform Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines set forth a formula to be used for calculating support based mainly on each parent’s income and how much time the child spends with each parent.
As described in more detail below, there are many factors and considerations involved in calculating child support. Determining which parent pays and how much is not as simple as plugging numbers into the state guideline formula to decide how your child will be supported.
Calculating child support is a complex and often contentious issue for parents. If you are involved in a child custody and support matter, there are some things to understand about California law that will impact your financial rights and obligations.
Each Parent’s Income And Financial Situation Impacts Child Support Orders
In Calculating support, the guidelines consider each parent’s income and overall financial situation. Parents are required to fill out an income and expense declaration form that sets forth their total income, assets, debts, and expenses.
In addition to disclosing salary and wages, investment income must also be declared by each party. Other types of deductions and expenses that must be disclosed include your average monthly expenditures, support paid for other children, and insurance premiums.
Child Custody Terms Are Important In Calculating Child Support
The amount of time the child spends with each parent is also a factor in calculating child support. Once child custody and visitation terms are determined, the percentage of time a child spends with each parent impacts the child support calculation.
Income reported and time spent with each parent determines which parent has the right to receive support and the amount of support to be paid. Calculating support is a complex process, and there are many factors to consider based on your unique circumstances.
California’s Uniform Child Support Guidelines
A child support attorney can help you with all matters relating to your support case, such as preparing your declaration form and filing all necessary paperwork with the court. Although the uniform guidelines are used to calculate support, it is ultimately up to a judge to determine the child support terms in contested support cases.
Under California law, a family law judge may order support that differs from the child support guideline recommendations. However, the court must provide justification in writing or on the record for the guideline departure.
For example, one parent cannot decide to stop working to avoid child support payments or to secure more child support from the other parent. If a court finds that one party acts in a way to manipulate the formula, the judge may modify support and provide justification accordingly.
Child Support Orders May Be Modified
Child support orders may be modified when you, your child, or your child’s other parent experiences a significant change in circumstances. For example, if your child’s needs significantly increase, you may petition the court to amend the child support order to meet those needs. Other examples of significant change include the following:
- One or both parents experience a significant increase or decrease in income
- A parent or child experiences health problems or becomes disabled
- A parent is incarcerated
- An increase in a child’s educational expenses
- Changes in custody or visitation
- An increase in a child’s medical or dental expenses
- Change in support obligations to other children
- Increased expenses for a child’s extra-curricular activities
When Child Support Responsibility Ends
Child support typically ends when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Support might end later if an 18-year-old child is still living at home and going to high school. In that case, child support may end when the child turns 19 or graduates, whichever comes first.
There are other circumstances that may end child support, such as if your child joins the military, is emancipated or gets married. If a child is disabled and unable to support himself, a court might order child support payments to continue during his adulthood.
Meet With A California Child Support Attorney
If you need help with child support or any other type of family law matter, an experienced attorney can help. Call 424-250-9130 or submit an online form to meet with California child support attorney Bruce A. Mandel.
With over 30 years of experience representing clients in family law cases, his reputation for outstanding legal advocacy is well deserved. Follow his Facebook page for current information and updates about California family law and how it can impact you.