Here’s what you need to know.
How Much is Child Support in California?
In California, the law requires both parents to be responsible for supporting a child. The state has child support guidelines that help provide a minimum level of support for a child, and judges must follow them. However, in some cases, judges can deviate from the guidelines – but only in limited situations.
Child support varies from family to family. Some of the factors used to determine how much child support is include:
- Each parent’s gross income
- How much time a child spends with each parent
- The tax consequences to both parents
- Health insurance costs, pensions and union dues
- Child care costs either parent must pay
For most people, it’s easiest to get a ballpark figure using a child support calculator.
Can Judges Order an Amount Different From What the Guidelines Say?
The guideline amount of child support determined by California’s mathematical formula is “presumed to be the correct amount of child support to be ordered,” according to California Family Code, Section 4057(a).
However, sometimes applying the mathematical formula neither fair nor reasonable. That means judges have some leeway in ordering child support, and it can go either way – lower or higher. Some of the circumstances that can cause a judge to order a different amount of child support include when:
- A parent has an “extraordinarily high” income and the amount of child support the guidelines prescribe would exceed the children’s needs
- A parent is not contributing to the children’s needs at a level that matches his or her custodial time
- Both parents have pretty equal time with the kids and one parent spends a lot more (or a lot less) on housing than the other parent does
- The children have special needs that may require more than the standard amount of child support
What Are Child Support Add-Ons?
The courts can order a parent to contribute to certain expenses that would benefit the children. For example, judges are required to order contributions to child care costs related to employment (or for reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills). That means if one parent is working but must pay for child care, the court can order the other parent to chip in.
Judges also have to order parents to pay “reasonable uninsured health care costs” for the children. That means if insurance doesn’t cover all a child’s medical expenses – or if the child does not have insurance at all – the parent paying child support must contribute to cover those costs.
Judges can also require parents to contribute to:
- Costs related to a child’s special needs
- Costs related to a child’s educational needs
- Travel expenses for visitation when the children come to visit the noncustodial parent
How Much is Child Support in California?
The best way to determine how much child support is in California, other than doing a mathematical calculation, is to use a free California child support calculator. You’ll need to input the following information:
- How many children you have
- What percentage of time you spend with your child or children
- Your net monthly income
- Your net monthly expenses
- Your spouse’s net monthly income
- Your spouse’s net monthly expenses
Access the California Child Support Calculator Here
California’s Mathematical Child Support Formula
If you’re mathematically inclined, the formula for child support is:
CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN))
- CS represents child support
- K represents the combined total of both parents’ income that can be allocated for child support
- HN represents “high net,” which is the net monthly income of the higher-earning parent
- H% represents the approximate percentage of the time the children spend with the higher-earning parent
- TN is the total net monthly disposable income of both parents
Ask a Lawyer: How Much is Child Support in California?
For a more specific calculation, call us at (209) 395-1605. We’ll discuss your case and all the specifics, and we can help you determine how much child support you’re likely to receive or pay.