Most parents want to go above and beyond to care for their children. This is true whether Mom and Dad stay together or go their separate ways. That said, determining child support can feel like a daunting process, at least on the surface.
Each state has its own regulations for calculating child support. In California, determining child support requires a complex calculation. This calculation is used to determine the financial support of a minor child, usually due to divorce or separation.
We’ll explain the basics of the California child support guidelines and how child support is calculated.
California Child Support Guidelines
The guidelines for child support in California are designed to offer one uniform calculation for determining how much of a parent’s income should go toward meeting a child’s basic needs. These guidelines are found under California Family Code, §§ 4050 to 4076 and take the following ideas into account:
- The parents’ job is to care for their children, providing adequate food, shelter, and other resources to promote a reasonable quality of life. What a parent provides will depend on the parent’s financial situation.
- Exceptions to the guideline are only used in special cases.
- Child support orders should be made to sufficiently provide for a child while also taking into account California’s high cost of living.
- Both parents are responsible for supporting their children.
Components Used to Calculate Child Support
Child support takes into account many different factors, including:
- The gross income of each parent. A judge will look most closely at the net monthly disposable income of each parent.
- The percentage of time each parent spends with each child.
- Tax deductions the parents can claim.
- Child care costs either parent faces.
- Mandatory payroll deductions.
The formula for calculating child support in California is:
CS= K (HN-H%)(TN)
- CS= child support amount. This is the answer the calculation will give when you enter your information.
- K= The total allocation for child support of both parents’ income.
- HN= High net. This is the net monthly disposable income of the parent who earns more money.
- H%= The percentage of time the higher-earning parent has primary physical responsibility of the child.
- TN= Combined total net monthly disposable income of both parents.
Exceptions to the Guideline Amount
In most cases, the court will use the formula above to determine child support amounts in California. However, exceptions do exist. Family Code Section 4057(b) has the full list of factors that will allow deviations from the guideline.
Consider this example. One parent may have a very high income. If the amount determined by the formula exceeds the need of the children, the judge may choose to award child support that’s lower than the formula.
The calculation from the guideline above is used in California to determine child support. Ultimately, the formula considers the parents’ incomes, tax deductions for each parent, time spent with the child, and more to determine a fair child support amount.
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