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How will child support be calculated in California?

For California couples who are at the end of a marriage and have children, the issue of child support is unavoidable. Once it is determined which parent will have custody, the other parent might be obligated to pay child support. A common question that both parents will have centers around how the child support amount is calculated. This can result in a dispute and a range of emotions. Various factors both financial and person make this a vital issue that should be understood beforehand.

There is a state guideline that a judge will use if the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own. There are numerous factors upon which the calculation hinges. It includes: what the parents earn or have the capability of earning; if there is other income and how much; the number of children the parents have together; the amount of time each parent spends with the children; the tax filing status of the parents; if there is support being provided by either parent to children from other relationships; health insurance costs; if there are union dues; if there are required retirement contributions; daycare and out-of-pocket health care costs; other issues.

The parents may be required to share the costs of the following: child care for the parent to go to work or attend school to garner work skills; reasonable health care costs; travel of the child from one parent to the other parent; educational needs for the child; and other needs. If there are special circumstances, the judge can deviate from the guidelines. The child support is based on the net disposable income - the amount that is left over after taxes and deductions. There is income that will not be counted toward determining child support. They are: CalWorks; General Assistance or General Relief; or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Time-share can also be important when calculating child support. The court will calculate how long the child is with each parent. This will reduce the child support as the time-share rises. Since child support can be so contentious an issue and parents frequently have trouble coming to an agreement on their own, the state has certain guidelines that it uses to try and come to a fair solution. From the perspective of both parents, it is imperative to have legal assistance with child support from an experienced divorce attorney.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Child Support -- Calculating Child Support," accessed on Dec. 3, 2017

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