How Is Child Support Calculated in California?

May 9, 2023
By Alternative Divorce Solutions

How Child Support Works in California

When parents divorce, both of them are obligated to pay child support by the court. Every child is entitled to financial support from both parents, so if both parents are not raising the child equally together after the divorce, they will be required pay the deficit.

For example, in cases where one parent has primary physical custody, the other parent would be obligated to make child support payments; however, by having primary physical custody of the child, the first parent is paying child support merely by supporting the child financially.

California Child Support Formula

To ensure each child has what he or she needs to thrive, California courts have established a standard formula used to calculate the amount of support a parent will have to pay. Likewise, parents typically cannot negotiate a lower support amount between themselves when settling a divorce. Also, child support cannot be waived in a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement.

The standard formula used to calculate a parent’s payment amounts is complicated. Some of the factors used in determining support amounts include the following:

  • Income earned by each parent
  • Mortgage obligations of each parent
  • Number of children the couple has together
  • Any children from a prior marriage
  • Any outstanding court-ordered support obligations
  • Amount of time the child spends in each parent’s physical custody
  • Required union dues
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • Income of new spouse if either has remarried
  • Health insurance costs

These are only a few ways the formula has to determine how much a parent must pay. Likewise, if a child has special needs that require extra expense, such as a disabled child, then the child’s individual situation can also be considered as a factor to assess a support obligation.

Enforcing & Modifying Child Support Orders in CA

Once the court determines the appropriate amount, a child support order will be mandated by the judge, and the parent who pays must comply with the order. The child support order cannot be changed except in a situation where there is a significant material change in circumstances.

For example, if the paying parent loses a job, then he or she must apply to the court to modify the child support order. If the loss in income is significant enough, then the court will amend the order to what the parent can afford until he or she acquires another job.

The state of California has a website parents can use to determine how much they might be expected to pay in child support. This calculator is available here. If you have more questions about your particular situation, you can also speak to one of our skilled attorneys.

Speak with a Mediator Regarding Child Support

Alternative Divorce Solutions is a law firm dedicated to helping divorcing couples reach a solution that works for both of them. Our founder, Attorney Lani Baron, believes all families should be offered a better way to divorce at a reasonable fee. Our firm offers a flat-fee pricing, a streamlined process, and a more respectful way to handle the average divorce. Let us see what our skilled team can do for you and your family.

Contact us at 949-368-2121 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with our experienced attorneys today.


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