California Child Support Calculator
This tool provides an estimate amount only as to how much money the non-custodial parent may or may not be required to pay annually for child support. An attorney can argue that the proposed guideline amount should be increased or reduced. Contact an attorney to discuss your child support case in confidence.
How Child Support is Calculated in California
When a couple divorce or breakup, one parent may be ordered to pay child support. In the state of California, both parents are obligated to support their children, and both parents are responsible for the child, except in very limited circumstances. Child support must be fair, timely, and sufficient. To determine what is “fair, timely, and sufficient” child support, the court uses a formula that takes into account a parent’s net disposable income. Net disposable income is defined as income from all sources minus mandatory deductions. Sources of income include salary, rental income, interest, disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, social security, spousal support, as well as income from a business or self-employment. Mandatory deductions include taxes, mandatory union dues, job expenses, health insurance premiums, and hardships (e.g. catastrophic losses, uninsured medical expenses, child support for other children). The formula used by the state of California also factors in the amount of time the parent spends with the child. A parent who has their children for 25% of the time will pay less in child support than one who is with their children 5% of the time. There are a few exceptions to the amount calculated using this formula. For example, a parent with a high income could be ordered to pay less if the amount calculated is well beyond the amount required to support a child. A parent can request an alternate payment plan, but must present the court with documentation showing that the alternate payment plan is fair. In addition to the support determined by the court, a parent will likely be ordered to pay for mandatory add-ons. Mandatory add-ons include the cost of child care related to employment and/or education, even if only one parent benefits. Both parents are expected to contribute equally to the cost of child care. Another mandatory add-on is any health-related cost not covered by insurance, such as co-pays or orthodontics. In addition, the court may order one parent to contribute to discretionary add-ons, which include summer camps, extra-circular activities, and anything else that contributes the education and well-being of the child. In California the general rule is that a parent must pay child support until a child reaches the age of 18, but there are exceptions. If the child is still in high school when he/she turns 18, then the parent will be required to pay child support until the child graduates or turns 19, whichever comes first. If a child gets married or becomes legally emancipated before their 18th birthday, then the child support payments stop. If a child has a disability that incapacitates them from earning a living, then the child support payments will likely continue after the child’s 18th birthday.