Child Support Your Divorce. Your Choices.

San Diego Child Support Lawyers

Helping Parents Understand Child Support in California

Close up of one hand holding a credit card and the other typing on a laptop to pay San Diego child support.In California, child support amounts are determined by a set of particularly complicated and nuanced guidelines. The guidelines consider the incomes of both parents, as well as the time each parent spends with the children. However, people often have options within these guidelines. As family law specialists, it is our role to help people know and understand all of their options.

Family Law San Diego has handled child support issues since 1990. Our San Diego child support attorneys understand that, while many view the law as making child support a cut-and-dry matter, there are still many points that may be disputed. Divorcing couples often disagree about what income should be included in child support calculations — income like overtime and bonuses. Reaching an agreement may require a judge's ruling.

Our San Diego child support lawyers arehere to help make sure you receive a ruling that accurately represents your situation. Call (619) 577-4900 today or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Let us empower you with multiple options.

How does California calculate child support?

Child support, relatively speaking, has elements which are more straightforward and mathematical under the California Child Support Guideline. We are providing simplified information on how the California Child Support Guideline is used to calculate child support to help reduce the stress involved in the divorce or separation process.

The first step in a calculating child support under the California Child Support Guideline, is to calculate each parent’s “net disposable income.” Under the California Child Support Guideline, the court calculates the amount of child support to be paid by considering four variables:

Variable One

Under the California Child Support Guideline, the court will inquire about the father’s net income which includes money from all sources, regardless of whether the type of money is reported under state or federal law as “taxable income.” Net disposable income is similar in concept to “take-home pay.” Understand that the court calculates this amount somewhat differently than an employer typically calculates for pay roll deductions; however, many of the deductions do overlap.

The court will begin calculating the amount of child support under the California Child Support Guideline by starting with the father’s total income. This figure is reached by adding the numbers from a variety of sources. Examples of income include wages from a job, tips, commission, bonuses, unemployment benefits, pensions, interest, dividends, and rental income.

Once this figure is identified, certain items will be deducted from the father’s income, such as taxes, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, health premiums, and costs of raising a child after a divorce or separation, to name a few.

The remaining amount is considered as the father’s net disposable income. Variable One of calculating child support under the California Child Support Guideline at that point is done.

Variable Two

Variable Two in calculating child support under the California Child Support Guideline is determining the mother’s net disposable income. We use the same method as with the father.

Variable Three

Variable Three in calculating child support under the California Child Support Guideline involves the judge inquiring about each parent’s federal tax filing status. There are four possible statuses: single, head of household, married filing separately, and married filing jointly.

Clients commonly ask if there are benefits to filing with a certain status. Head of household status may provide certain advantages, including lower taxes. To qualify for this filing status, the parent must be either divorced or married, but filing separately. The parent must also be separated from his or her spouse for at least 6 months and have at least one child living with him or her for more than 50 percent of the time. Parents who have never been married and who have a child or children for more than 50 percent of the time can also qualify to file as head of household.

If custody is literally 50-50, technically neither parent can file as head of household. When two or more children are involved, it could save tax money for both parents to create a custody order in which one parent has just over 50 percent physical custody for one child and just under 50 percent physical custody for the other child. The benefit of this is that each parent can then claim as head of household which may, depending on the parent’s income amount, reduce the amount of money paid to the government as a result of exclusions, deductions, and/or credits.

Variable Four

The final variable in calculating child support under the California Child Support Guideline is the “time share” or the percentage of time the child spends with each parent. In plain terms, the more time the child spends with the parent that is considered the “lower-time parent,” or the parent that typically has a lower percentage of physical custody, the less child support will be ordered by the court. The court may investigate to confirm that the motivation for spending more time with the child is in the best interests of the child and not primarily with the intent of the parent to either obtain or to avoid paying child support.

If you are using an online calculator to obtain an approximate estimate of child support under the California Child Support Guideline, keep in mind that, depending on the calculator used and the figures entered, results may vary. Only the court can determine the actual amount that will need to be paid; the online calculators are simply a tool to provide a “ballpark figure.”

At What Age Does Child Support Stop in California?

In California, child support payments must be made until the child reaches the age of 18. However, they can continue until the age of 19 if the child is still in high school full time, living at home, and unable to support him or herself.

Is There a Maximum Amount of Child Support in California?

There is no maximum amount of child support in the state of California. As mentioned above, the amount is calculated based on income, custody time, and a few additional factors.

Do You Pay Child Support With Joint Custody in California?

If parents share joint custody, the California court may consider the income and earning potential of both parents, then require that the parent with the higher income pay child support. However, if both parents have similar income and equal physical custody, it is possible that they may not be required to pay child support. Our child support attorney in San Diego can help you determine whether you will need to pay child support based on the facts of your case.

Child Support Modification in San Diego County

Usually, a change in income gives rise to the need for change in child support. This change, however, does not happen automatically. If a parent loses his or her job or receives a substantial change in income, a motion must be filed.

It is wise for parents to do this as soon as possible - before child support payments become overdue. They can begin by calling Family Law San Diego at (619) 577-4900. Our child support lawyers in San Diego can help you navigate this situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

Contact Our San Diego Child Support Attorney Today

Family Law San Diego is dedicated to one thing: helping families move through intense and often difficult changes smoothly and effectively. To that end, we have a policy about response time—we return all of our calls and emails within 1 business day. Prospective and current clients can count on our San Diego child support lawyers for open and frequent communication, every single time.

Contact us online or call (619) 577-4900 to schedule a free consultation with our San Diego child support attorney.


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