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Tips on using the California child support calculator

As parents fight about various divorce issues, such as alimony, property division, children often fear the worst. They may be overwhelmed by insecurity which may stem from the unsettled issues of who will provide primary care such as housing, food, clothing and education. In the best interests of the child, the court may gives physical custody to one parent and makes the other responsible for child support payments.

In California, the Child Support Services Department has prepared a handbook that provides guidelines on how to use a calculator that provides an estimate of the amount of child support a support parent may be expected to pay.

To use the calculator, a parent can log onto the California child support website and provide the information in the data entry fields in the calculator. The calculator then comes up with the necessary information. In California, child support generally is based on the parent's net disposable income and the time each child spends with each parent. The court takes into consideration the financial obligations of both parents when deciding on the amount of child support to order.

Besides wages, income includes tips, commissions, unemployment benefits, self-employment earnings, investment interest and dividends. Even rental income or Social Security benefits is considered when calculating child support payments. The net income of the parent is calculated after subtracting taxes, mandatory retirement payments, health insurance premiums, spousal support payments and also expenses of raising children from another relationship.

After all the necessary information is entered into the calculator, the parent clicks on the "Calculate" button for the calculation of child support payments. The actual amount may differ from the calculator's tally because users often make different assumptions about items, such as time-sharing, taxable and non-taxable income, and other factors, that either may not be considered or may be used differently by the court.

Source: ChildSup.CA.gov, "User guide," accessed on Dec. 29, 2014

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