Like other states, California has child support guidelines in place. This state’s family courts are supposed to follow these guidelines to make sure child support orders are both fair and consistent.
In many cases, the guidelines make calculating child support fairly simple. The court will collect some basic wage and other financial information from each parent, apply the guidelines to the parents’ situation, and issue an order.
However, for high-earners, applying the guidelines may not be so simple.
High-earners may have reasons to ask a court to deviate from the guidelines
Judges in California do have limited discretion to award child support in an amount different from what the guidelines call for.
In some cases, for example, high-earners can argue that if a court applied the formula in the guidelines strictly, the support order would be much more than what the parent’s children needed to maintain their standard of living.
The high-earner may argue that, with all things considered, they could pay less child support.
A parent in the San Diego area may also argue that the unique circumstances of their family require a support amount different from what the guidelines provide.
A good example might be a child who, prior to the divorce, was receiving special professional or medical services or who may have been receiving supplemental education.
To get an exception to the guidelines, a parent will need to document their request carefully. They should also prepare for the possibility that the child’s other parent might object to the exception.
High-earners may have questions about what counts as income
The amount of child support a Carlsbad parent must pay will depend on their income. For child support purposes, what counts as income is very broad.
Income can include revenue from a business without regard to common tax deductions like deductions for depreciation. Income can also include certain employment perks, like a company car, a guaranteed bonus or a housing allowance.
Getting an accurate picture of a high-earner’s income can be complicated.