Child Support Laws in California

Child support payments are ordered to ensure that both parents are contributing to the costs of raising a child. The payments are usually made by the parent that spends less time with the children, but can also be ordered when there is equal parenting time, but substantially unequal incomes. The goal is for the children’s lifestyles to be impacted as little as possible by the divorce. It’s important to hire an experienced and aggressive Marin County divorce attorney to protect your rights and the rights of your children.

How Long Does Child Support Last?
California requires parents to support their children until the age of 18. There are some exceptions, such as a child that is 19, but still in high school and living with a parent. Support could end if a child marries, registers a domestic partnership, becomes self-supporting or joins the military. A court could also order continued support for an adult child of the marriage with a serious disability that prevents them from becoming self-supporting.

How is Income for Child Support Determined in California?
Child Support is calculated based on both parents’ net income from all sources. First the gross income is calculated, including commissions, unemployment benefits, social security, lottery winnings, alimony (spousal support) from another marriage, and other types of income. Net income is the gross amount minus allowable deductions for federal, state and local taxes, union dues, health insurance, etc. Some parents will try to reduce or avoid paying child support by quitting their job, turning down overtime or switching to working “off the books.” These attempts will fail because the court will “impute” income to a parent based on their education, employment history and training.

How Is Child Support Calculated Once Income is Determined?
The following questions need to be answered to determine the correct amount of support:

• The parenting time arrangement
• The number of children eligible for support
• The tax liabilities of the parents
• Child support obligations for other children
• Health insurance expenses
• Parents’ job related expenses
• Costs for health care, day care and travel

The court may also order additional support for a child’s education, talents and special needs, or for travel expenses for visitation.

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