Child Support: How it's Calculated

Updated: May 2

Find out what factors a court considers when calculating child support

In California, the amount you pay or receive for child support is based on a complex calculation that takes into consideration the parents’ incomes, how much time each parent spends with the child, and tax deductions that are available to either parent. This complex formula is used whenever the support of a minor child needs to be determined. In order to determine the amount of child support to be received, both parents will need to gather some information. The state of California requires the following information: ● The gross income (e.g., income before taxes or any deductions) for each parent ● The percentage of time the child spends with each parent ● Available tax deductions that each parent can claim ● Mandatory payroll deductions of each parents, such as health insurance ● Estimated child care costs for both parents Once parents provide the above information, it is put into a complex formula that is used to determine how much child support each parent will receive or owe. Unless there is a good reason that a different amount of child support would be appropriate (e.g., more or less than the guideline), the court will order the amount of child support based on the guidelines calculated by the formula. Some examples in which a non-guideline amount of child support would be deemed appropriate include: ● A child with specials needs that requires more expensive and specialized care ● Both parents have an equal amount of time with the child, but one parent has a much lower or higher level of income ● One parent has an extremely high income and the amount given in the formula would exceed the needs of the child Of course, as life changes, you might feel the need to adjust your child support even if you originally used the guidelines. If this happens, the easiest way to handle the situation is to make an agreement on a new amount. Once you agree, you should present the solution to a court in order to make it valid and legally enforceable. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you will need to file a written request with the court requesting a modification due to a change since the formerly agreed upon amount. The court will require that the above-mentioned information is provided once again by both parents. The child support process can be complex but family law attorneys have special software to calculate support and explain the possible scenarios. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We would be happy to assist you.

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