How Does Child Support Work?

California Family Code provides that, “A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life” . . . and that “[c]hildren should share in the standard of living of both parents.” California Family Code Section 4053(a),(f).

California Guidelines for child support are found in California Family Code Sections 4050-4076. The specific formula is found in Family Code Section 4055. The purpose of the guideline is to ensure that the children are adequately provided for and that the amounts of child support are uniform across the state.

Child support is calculated using one of two programs: X-spouse or Dissomaster. While the programs are different, the results are virtually the same. The guideline computer calculation is presumed correct, so litigants usually fight over the inputs. The two most significant inputs are the parties’ income and the visitation parenting time, i.e “time share.” As a result, these two inputs are usually hotly contested.

Time frame:

You can only start receiving child support upon filing a request for child support. The Court will not grant child support retroactively prior to the time of filing the RFO, unless an exception applies. Support is not granted prior to filing the RFO because it is your responsibility to be proactive in seeking child support. Child support lasts until the child is 18 years old and no longer in highschool. However, it can go longer if the child has not yet graduated from highschool or if they are incapacitated from supporting themselves.

Health Insurance:

As part of child support California Family Code section 3750 – 3753, mandates that either or both parents shall maintain health insurance for the minor child(ren) if it is available at no or reasonable cost (5{33a6f0b0263d97ee54d2bad2b686d372fdf829b2bd769703c17025ad38142135} or less of that parent’s income is presumed reasonable cost).

Mandatory Add-Ons:

There are mandatory add-ons to the guideline child support for the following costs:

• Uninsured medical expenses (e.g. co-pays)

• Babysitting/day care expense while working or seeking employment or vocation training/education. California Family Code section 4062(a)(1)

Department of Child Support Services (DCSS):

You do not have to go it alone and you do not have to retain an attorney to seek child support. If you file with the Department of Child Support Services, then the county will seek support on behalf of your child. The Family Court does not have jurisdiction of child support once DCSS is involved. For more information please go to the DCSS website:

Low Income Adjustment:

If the net disposable income of the obligor is less than $1,000 per month then there is a presumption that the obligor is entitled to a low income adjustment. California Family Code Section 4055(b)(7)

Deviation from Guideline:

Unlike spousal support where the Court may deviate from the guidelines without specific statutory authority, in child support the Court cannot deviate from the guidelines unless the Family Code applies and the burden is met by the party seeking for the deviation. California Family Code Section 4053(k) : ” The guideline is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.”

California Family Code Section 4057:

“(a) The amount of child support established by the formula provided in subdivision (a) of Section 4055 is presumed to be the correct amount of child support to be ordered.

(b) The presumption of subdivision (a) is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof and may be rebutted by admissible evidence showing that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case, consistent with the principles set forth in Section 4053, because one or more of the following factors is found to be applicable by a preponderance of the evidence, and the court states in writing or on the record the information required in subdivision (a) of Section 4056:

(1) The parties have stipulated to a different amount of child support under subdivision (a) of Section 4065.

(2) The sale of the family residence is deferred pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 3800) of Part 1 and the rental value of the family residence where the children reside exceeds the mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. The amount of any adjustment pursuant to this paragraph shall not be greater than the excess amount.

(3) The parent being ordered to pay child support has an extraordinarily high income and the amount determined under the formula would exceed the needs of the children.

(4) A party is not contributing to the needs of the children at a level commensurate with that party’s custodial time.

(5) Application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate due to special circumstances in the particular case. These special circumstances include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A) Cases in which the parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children.

(B) Cases in which both parents have substantially equal time-sharing of the children and one parent has a much lower or higher percentage of income used for housing than the other parent.

(C) Cases in which the children have special medical or other needs that could require child support that would be greater than the formula amount.

(D) Cases in which a child is found to have more than two parents.”

By | 2017-11-13T22:01:08+00:00 November 3rd, 2016|Family|0 Comments

Leave A Comment