Child support is calculated using a complex formula that considers the income of each parent, the amount of time each parent spends with the child and the tax deductions available to either parent (California Family Code § 4050).
A court will decide on a case-by-case basis how much support one parent is required to pay based on the best interests of the child. Child support may be ordered to cover childcare expenses, medical and dental expenses, summer camps, or private schools.
Child support may be modified until it terminates when the child is 18 or 19 if the child is still a high school student. To request a modification, one party must demonstrate “changed circumstances.” Changed circumstances include a change in the income of either party, a change in visitation time, or special needs of the child.
Frequently Asked Questions
These questions and answers are not intended to be legal advice to any person. This information is general in nature and an answer given may or may not be applicable to a particular situation. Family law issues are extremely complex and competent legal advice should be sought from a licensed attorney.
1. How much do I have to pay?
There are many factors that are considered. In general, the amount of child support depends upon your income level, your spouse’s income level and the amount of time you and your co-parent have custody of the children.
2. How long do I have to pay?
Child support is typically paid until the child is 18 years old and a graduate of high school.
3. Who pays for the medical insurance?
The spouse with the medical insurance available through their employer pays for the policy of insurance. If both spouses have medical insurance available through their employer they may both choose to cover the kids. Non-reimbursed medical expenses such as deductibles are generally shared equally. The portion of the medical insurance premium not covered by the employer is factored into the support calculation.
4. How is child support calculated in California?
A computer program called Dissomaster is generally used to calculate guideline child support in California. The Dissomaster uses a complex formula which takes into consideration your marital status, your income, your spouse’s income, whether you pay a mortgage, property taxes and other variables including but not limited to the visitation schedule with each child to determine the amount of guideline child support each child of the marriage should receive.
5. What happens to the support amount if I remarry? What if I have more children?
If you remarry, the Dissomaster will calculate in the effect of the new spouse’s income on the taxes you pay. This may have some effect on the amount of child support paid for your children. If you have additional children, you may qualify for a hardship deduction and the costs of the child are taken into consideration by the Dissomaster calculations.
6. I am still paying child support though the children are living with me and the custody arrangement has changed. Do I have to continue paying?
You are obligated to continue paying under the current order until it is changed. You should seek a modification of the support and visitation order when circumstances change.
7. My spouse will fight for custody if I ask for child support. Can my spouse do that?
Short answer is yes. Your spouse can do that but will likely be unsuccessful in obtaining full custody of the children.
8. I am not the biological parent of the children. Do I have pay child support?
Depends. If the children were conceived during the marriage and you held them out as your own, you may be deemed the presumed father and be required to pay support regardless of the fact that you are not the biological father. If there is no question that the children were from another marriage you are not required to pay child support for the kids unless you have adopted them as your own.
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