How does California determine child support in a divorce or paternity case? What are some of the factors which affect the amount of child support to be paid in your case? Under California Family Law, both parents are legally responsible for providing food, clothing, shelter, education and care for a child until a child graduates high school or reaches the age of 18.
In cases where both parents are employed, share roughly an equal amount of parenting time and have similar earnings there may not be a need for child support. California has established a guideline child support calculator which compiles information from each party to determine the “baseline” child support based upon the unique circumstances of the parties.
What are some of the factors which help California determine child support obligations? The equation starts with the earning capacity of each parent. The calculator will determine “net disposable income” after subtracting any previous child support obligations, health insurance, mandatory contributions to a retirement program or union as well as other deductions such as payroll taxes. Income isn’t only based upon wages from a primary job. It will include all sources of income, including but not limited to:
- Social Security Income
- Passive Income (such as rental property revenues or investments)
- Benefits from State Programs such as Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation
- Commissions, Bonuses, Stock Options and Other Income
Both parents are required by the State of California to make a full, accurate disclosure of all sources of income.
Other factors which help California determine child support obligations include the requirements of the child including any special needs, food, clothing, shelter, health insurance and other healthcare related expenses, child care, and some extracurricular or educational expenses.
Once the guideline calculator establishes a baseline the parties are free to negotiate a solution or settle the matter through mediation. The Court has the final say on whether or not to accept any agreement reached by the parents in a child support matter. It is also important to note that the Court will always require the result of the State guideline child support calculations before issuing child support orders.