How Child Support is Calculated in California

Disclaimer! The contents of this video and on this webpage provides a general overview.  The material in this video and on this webpage are for educational purposes only, is not tailored to address your specific needs, and does not constitute legal advice. The information/answers we provide in this video or on this webpage are not specific to your case as we do not know your case facts. Do not rely on any information presented on this webpage to make decisions regarding your California divorce. Again, the information presented herein is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney to obtain legal advice about your divorce.

The purpose of child support is to provide monthly financial assistance to the parent who has custody of the child. This obligation has nothing to do with whether you are the mother or father of the child. It is more about trying to balance out the difference between the separate homes where the child resides.

In California, there are standard guidelines that have been put in place to help calculate child support. These guidelines start by taking into account California’s cost of living. Next, the court considers the difference of income between the two parents and the difference of who gets the child for what amount of time. The larger the difference in income, the higher the child support calculation will likely be. Similarly, the greater the difference in the amount of time split between the parents, the higher the calculation will likely be.

Because these calculations and suppositions can become extremely complex, there are court approved software programs out there to assist with the calculations.

The formula that the California courts and these programs use is:

CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]

CS stands for child support; K stands for the amount of parental income allotted for child support; HN stands for the net monthly income of the high earning parent; H% stands for the child’s timeshare of the high earning parent; and, TN stands for the total net disposable income of the parents. Further, the calculations get more complicated from there.

Further, there are other factors that impact the final calculation of child support. The amount of wages of that a parent receives has a direct implication on the calculation. The court examines how frequently the parent is paid, along with the amount of each check. Further, if a parent has self-employment income, it is also considered.

Other financial calculations related to wages may have an impact on a child support determination. For example, if a parent contributes to a retirement plan, that wage contribution lowers the amount of wages that a court can consider for use as child support. Similarly, health insurance payments are also subtracted from the amount that a court can consider in calculating support.

If you happen to have other income that is not related to your hourly pay, this can also be worked into the child support calculations. Examples of these types of income are stock, overtime pay, or other bonus payments. Overall, it is up to the court to determine how it wishes to see these types of additional income.

In addition to guideline child support, both parents may be required to pay child support add ons. Such add ons include daycare and healthcare costs. Parents can agree to pay a higher amount than guideline support. This can be reflected in the marital settlement agreement.

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