Understanding Child Support:
Child support is the amount of money that a court will order one or both parents to pay every month to help support their child. California uses a statewide formula to reach a child support amount. It is referred to as the “guidelines calculation,” which takes into account both parents income, the higher earner’s monthly disposable income, how many children are involved, how much time each parent spends with the children, whether there is support of children from other relationships, health insurance expenses, and so on. Child support payments are typically made until children turn 18. However, these support payments may be ordered to extend until the child reaches 19 if the child is still in high school full time, living at home, and is not able to support him or herself. Every county in California has a local child support agency that can assist you in getting, collecting, or changing a child support order.
You may ask for child support once you file for a divorce, legal separation, or annulment. Remember, you can also ask for child support in a family law case other than divorce, such as when you file a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. The first thing to do after you have opened a divorce case is to fill out your court forms.
The forms required are:
To calculate your child support, you can go online to www.childsup.ca.gov/calculator and enter your information into the data entry fields of the calculator. Then, the calculator will calculate the child support payment amount specific to your case.
California’s child support guidelines are based on each parent’s net disposable monthly income and the amount of time the child is cared for by each parent. Income can be in the form of money, property or services, and includes the following:
- Wages from a job.
- Self-employment earnings.
- Unemployment benefits.
- Disability and workers’ compensation benefits.
- Rental income.
- Social Security or pensions.
- Any payments or credits due or becoming due regardless of source, including lottery and prize winnings.
The court determines net disposable income for each parent by subtracting certain items from his or her income, including:
- Mandatory union dues.
- Mandatory retirement contributions.
- Health premiums.
- Child or spousal support actually being paid.
- Costs of raising children from another relationship.