Child Support is a court order specifying an amount of money that must be paid each month to help support a child’s living expenses. In California, there are specific guidelines for the courts to follow to determine the proper amount of child support that must be paid. The calculations consider a number of factors, including the income of each parent, how many children there are and how much time each parent spends with the children. Child support orders may also include specifications as to the division of payment for extracurricular activities, schooling expenses, child care expenses, health insurance and other medical bills.
In California, both parents of a child are equally responsible for financially providing for the needs of his or her child. To obtain a child support order, when parents separate or divorce, one of them must ask the court to make an order of child support. After a child support order is made, the payments are usually made until the children turn eighteen. Child support orders may be modified due to changed circumstances throughout the child’s life.
When the child is born in a marriage, the law automatically assumes that the husband and wife are the parents. If the child is born to an unmarried couple, the first step is to establish paternity. Paternity can be established by the father signing a voluntary declaration or by utilizing genetic testing. Once paternity has been established, a court can order a parent to pay the other child support.
California has a statewide formula called a “guideline calculation” for determining the appropriate amount of child support to be paid. The parents are allowed to agree to a child support amount on their own. However, neither parent can “waive” child support. The court will always retain the power to order one parent to pay the other child support. If the parents of the child cannot agree to a child support amount, the judge will decide the proper amount based on guideline calculations.
The guideline calculations consider the following factors:
- How much money each parent earns, or is able to earn
- How many children the parents have with each other;
- The time each parent spends with the child(ren);
- The tax filing status;
- Support of children from other relationships;
- Health insurance expenses;
- Mandatory union dues and retirement contributions;
- The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs; and
- Other factors that are less common
The guideline amount of child support is presumed to be accurate. The judge can only differ from the guideline amount in limited circumstances. At Davies Wegner Law, we can help inform you of your rights or obligations for child support. We can run a guideline child support calculation for you to help you align your interests with the actual order. If you feel like you are overpaying child support or being underpaid, call us and we can help determine whether a child support order modification is appropriate. To set up a consultation and guideline report, please call us at 310-481-0300.