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California Child Support Guidelines

California Family Code § 4050 to 4076 dictates how the court determines child support for divorcing parents. If you are dissolving your marriage or are separated from the other parent, here’s an overview of how the judge comes up with the amount you will pay or receive to raise your child.

Child support in California

Children have needs that must be met whether their parents live together or not. Therefore, the judge presiding over your child custody case will come up with a value that the non-custodial parent will pay to cover the child’s needs. Those needs include education, housing, clothing, food, health insurance, extracurricular activities, etc.

The custodial parent (the one that spends the most time with the child) often receives the payments. This is because the law assumes that they are already making significant contributions directly to their child. But there are instances where both parents pay child support.

Calculating the amount of child support

Before California judge decides on the amount of child support to pay, they will look at the net disposable income of each parent. Your net disposable income is the money you remain with after paying your taxes, alimony, other child support, health premiums, mandatory retirement contributions, mandatory union dues, and costs of raising your other family (if you have one).

Also, the judge will look at your overtime pay, commissions, bonuses, tips, and other income that you get on top of your:

  • Salary
  • Prize winnings like lottery
  • Stocks
  • Business profits
  • Worker’s or disability compensation benefits
  • Interest on your investments
  • Retirement benefits

After weighing down your income and expenses, the judge will also consider the amount of time you spend with your kid. Typically, if you spend less time with your child, you will likely pay more support.

Child support in California ends when the child turns 19. But it also ends when your child emancipates themselves in court, joins the military, or marries.