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How Is Child Support Determined in California?

Posted by Hong Lyu | Jan 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

As stated in Family Code Section 4053, California law establishes the general rule that both parents are responsible for supporting their child and that they are obligated to support their child according to their circumstances and station in life. This means that either parent can be ordered to pay child support and that the ordered amount is tailored to a parent's income and ability to pay. Therefore, you are not necessarily doomed to pay child support just because you happened to be the father, and the amount in support is determined on a case-by-case basis. The amount of child support is determined by a calculation that takes into account:

  1. the gross income of the parents,
  2. the amount of custody timeshare each parent has,
  3. and certain mandatory costs that each parent is obliged to pay.

A family law judge would take these factors and plug them into a formula that calculates the amount of child support the paying parent would have to pay, also referred to as a guideline. The formula itself is determined by state law. Judges throughout California will typically use a computer program that will automatically apply the formula to determine the guideline amount. Essentially, child support is determined by a cold calculation.

Generally, the parent who earns more income and has less custody timeshare with the child will end up paying child support. However, the obligation can change or shift onto the other parent if any of the factors significantly change. Child support can be reduced, for example, if the paying parent earns significantly less since the calculation. In some occasions, the obligation to pay can fall on the other parent if there are changes in the custody arrangements.

Other than looking at the income and timeshare of the parents, judges may also consider other factors such as certain mandatory costs that each parent pays. These mandatory costs include things like labor union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, and health care insurance. Typically, these costs are deducted from a parent's pay and are not optional. Another cost that a judge may consider is child support paid for children from a different relationship. These costs are considered to determine a parent's “ability” to pay support, and have the effect of offsetting the ordered amount.

If you are facing issues regarding child support, or have questions about your rights, please contact our attorneys at Lee Lyu Martell. We are here to help. Our telephone number is (909) 381-0074.

About the Author

Hong Lyu

Education:University of California, BerkeleyUniversity of La Verne, College of Law Hong has primarily practiced in Family Law throughout Southern California. He has handled matters involving divorces; legal separations; child custody and visitation; support; and community property divisions. He ...


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