Child support cases can be highly emotional for the California parents involved. These cases often come intertwined with other legal issues, like divorce, custody, or paternity disputes. Unmarried parents and parents facing an impending divorce have many questions to answer and important issues to consider when it comes to ensuring the support of their children.

California laws regarding child support are complex and can be difficult to understand without help from an experienced family law attorney. The Ventura family law attorneys of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC are available to provide guidance and skilled advocacy for all of your divorce and child support concerns. For a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our California child support attorneys, call (805) 643-5555.

How is Child Support Determined in California?

Before determining support payments, the issue of the child custody arrangement will need to be decided first, since support is determined in part by. In order to determine your child support payment, the court will determine your disposable income. The court arrives at this number by starting with your gross income, subtracting any necessary deductions, and dividing by 12 to calculate a monthly payment.

For the purposes of child support, your gross income is made up of salary (including wages, bonuses, commissions, etc.), rental income, dividends, pensions, trust income, workers compensation, social security and any spousal support received from someone who is not the other parent in the child support action. The court will deduct state and federal tax obligations, mandatory union dues, necessary job-related expenses, health insurance premiums, extraordinary healthy expenses, as well as basic living expenses for any children from other relationships.

Once your disposable income has been calculated, the court will determine your timeshare. Timeshare is the amount of time each parent has primary responsibility for the children. Most states calculate this by counting the number of times a child stays overnight with the parent, but those in Ventura getting divorced with children will use a different formula. California calculates the number of hours per year a child is with a parent. Factors like who takes the children to and from school, who attends school functions and how involved each parent is also contribute. At this point, the court will plug all of these factors into a complicated mathematical formula to calculate child support.

What Expenses are Included in the Monthly Child Support Calculation?

The types of expenses included when figuring out child support needs include:

  • Health insurance
  • Back payments
  • Interest on back payments
  • Monetary support (food, clothing, & shelter)

Monetary support covers housing, food, clothing basic education and other essentials for a child. Other expenses may be ordered by the judge or agreed to by the parents including:

  • Child care;
  • Travel costs for visitation;
  • Unpaid medical bills; and
  • Extracurricular activities such as sports, lessons, field trips, and other activities.

How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support?

A parent in California is required to provide support for their child until:

  • The child turns 18 and has graduated high school;
  • The child turns 19; or
  • The child marries, dies, or becomes legally emancipated from the parents, such as joining the military.

Does Child Support Continue Through College in California?

The answer here is straightforward—no. As detailed above, a parent is required to provide support for a child only through age 19, or until the child graduates from high school—whichever comes first.

Is There a Limit on How Much Support I Can Be Ordered to Pay in California?

Under California law, there is currently no cap on child support payments. The state-provided guidelines will generally be followed and are presumptively considered the legal calculation in most cases. Don’t worry if the number seems improper at first—the judge still has discretion to modify the amount in some circumstances. If one parent’s income is especially low (typically a disposable income of less than $1,000), or if it would be in the best interest of the child, a judge may decide to differ from the calculated support guideline amount.

What if the Parent Receiving Support Does Not Use it for the Child in California?

Unfortunately, California law doesn’t provide much recourse in this situation. The law does not require that the receiving parent use the support for any specific purpose. It is presumed under the law that general living expenses, such as rent, groceries and utilities, are incurred by the parent for the benefit of the child.

Will the Support Amount Be the Same For Each Child in the Family in California?

In short, the answer is no. The longer answer to this question may come as a surprise to California parents, but younger children are typically awarded a higher monthly support payment than older children. One might think that the needs of a teenager would be far more expensive than an infant who hasn’t begun school, but California legislature has consistently ruled that younger children need more support.

How Can I Modify or Terminate Child Support Payments in California?

If you feel that your child support order or custody agreement is inaccurate or unfair, don’t worry—it can be modified. You and your child’s other parent can work out a new agreement between yourselves, but a judge still needs to sign off on it to make it legally enforceable. Some states require that parents try to resolve the issue through mediation before bringing the case back into court. California courts suggest the use of mediator, but do not require it.

Generally, a substantial change in circumstances is required to request a modification of support or custody through the court system. Events like relocation, loss of employment, or a serious illness can typically satisfy this requirement.

Contact an Experienced California Child Support Attorney Today

California parents have many questions when it comes to child support. These questions are best-answered by a family law attorney with experience in child support calculations. At Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, our Ventura child support attorneys have decades of experience handling all types of family matters, including difficult divorce and child support cases. We have the right combination of compassion and aggression to represent the best interest of your family. For a free and completely confidential consultation regarding child support or related matters, call (805) 643-5555.