FAQ: Child Support in California

child support in CaliforniaWhen raising a child on your own, you may need financial support. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions asked about child support in California. Call the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today to learn more.

Q. How is child support in California determined?

California’s statewide guideline dictates the formula to calculate child support. The court calculates it using the following criteria:

  • Number of children,
  • Parents individual income,
  • Each parent’s custody time with the child,
  • Tax filing status, and
  • Individual parent’s tax-deductible expenses.

Q.  Is there a limit or cap on the amount of child support in California that the Court can order?

California does not limit or cap the amount of support the court orders. In most cases, the guideline’s calculation is presumptively a legal calculation. There are, however, instances when a judge will deviate from the calculation.

Q.  What if the calculation generates an child support amount that is more than necessary to support a child?

Determining the necessary amount to support a child differ on a case-by-case basis. The law states that children are entitled to a similar lifestyle to their parents. Thus, the court often upholds the child support in California that improves the lower-income parent’s lifestyle. The court may deviate from the child support guidelines when the excessive child support amount does not bear a reasonable relationship to the:

  • Lifestyle of either parents, or
  • Amount needed to rear a child consistent with that lifestyle.

Q.  What if the child support in California is enough to support both the child and the former spouse?

This happens when one parent’s income is significant. The law permits the child to be raised in a lifestyle consistent with what the higher-earning parent could provide. Courts will uphold child support payments that bolstered the former spouse’s socio-economic standing (e.g. better housing).

Q. What income is included in the child support calculation?

The Family Code provides that child support in California considers all sources of income, such as:

  • Earned income from employment
  • Recurring interest or investment income
  • Cash flow from a business

Courts will not solely rely on what the parent reports on a income tax return. People are known to run personal expenses through a business as a business deduction. When this occurs, then for the purpose of calculating child support, the court will add the non-business expenses back into the income.

Q. What if the receiving parent does not use the support payments for the child?

Unfortunately, the law does not require that child support be used for a specific purpose. The recipient does not have to account for the used child support payments. Rather, for child support in California, the law presumes that general living expenses—housing, utilities, groceries, clothing—incurred by the receiving parent are incurred for the child’s benefit as well.

Q.  Does the receiving parent have to pay all of the child’s expenses?

No, child support in California is for basic living expenses. It does not include educational expenses, extracurricular activities, or non-covered medical expenses. Those are split between the parents.

Q.  Does child support continue through college graduation?

Child support in California terminates when the child reaches 18 and graduates from high school. If the child has not graduated by 18, then support continues until the child graduates high school or s/he turns 19, whichever comes first.

Q.  What if my financial circumstances change?

Child support in California is subject to modification if there is a change in a parent’s financial circumstances. It can also be modified if the physical custody arrangements changed resulting in the child spending more time with the paying parent than the recipient.

Contact a Child Support Attorney

For more information about child support in California, contact a child support lawyer with Law Offices of Rick D. Banks by calling (559) 222-4891.

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