Child Support

California Guidelines

Under almost all circumstances, the California Family Law Courts use the California Child Support Guidelines, a complicated formula for which software is installed on every California Family Law Court Judge’s computer. Unless proven wrong for a particular set of circumstances, the court awards the guideline amount in child support cases.

The California Child Support Guidelines are based on many factors, of which the parent’s net income is only one. As the person being ordered to pay child support, the burden is on you to convince the court that the California Guideline Child Support amount is incorrect and should not be ordered.

Determinative Factors In Calculating Child Support

What are the factors that enter into the court’s determination when calculating support under the California Child Support Guidelines?

The following is this author’s opinion of the most important factors, in their order of importance, which judges — when directed by attorneys — plug into the equation and software program to calculate the California Guideline Child Support amount:

  1. Gross income of each of the parties.
  2. The amount of time, measured in percentages, the “non-custodial parent” spends with the children of the relationship.
  3. The tax filing status of the parties (i.e. head of household versus single) and the number of dependents each parent might claim.
  4. Spousal and/or child support one parent may have been ordered to pay in another family law matter.
  5. Whether a parent has other minor children in his or her custody and is obligated to support them.
  6. Whether either parent incurs child care costs in order to work, train, or obtain education in order to qualify for employment.
  7. Whether medical insurance premiums were paid by one parent for medical coverage for the child of the parties or other minor dependents.
  8. Necessary job related expenses.
  9. Union dues.
  10. Schedule A personal itemized deductions claimed on a parent’s tax return, for example, mortgage interest deduction and real property taxes.

Other factors specific to various types of employment should be raised by the skillful lawyer. Examples: Some police officers do not have social security withheld, yet the program calculates as though it were being withheld. Bonus or commissions earned by the child support-paying parent and how that translates to bonus support.

Nathan James started his career as a family law attorney with the San Francisco District Attorney—Family Support Bureau in 1981. His duties were establishing paternity and establishing child support orders. If you need an experienced attorney for your child custody or support matter or your divorce, please call us at (415) 749-5900 or write to us using the form below for a free consultation.

The Underemployed or Unemployed Spouse

Another issue often arising in child and spousal support cases is that one parent may not be earning income that matches his or her earning capacity or ability, or may be under employed or unemployed. This raises other complicated issues that the skillful lawyer needs to address. If you need an experienced attorney for your child custody or support matter or your divorce, please call us at (415) 749-5900 or write to us using the form below for a free consultation

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