California child support laws are pretty straightforward – they require both parents to contribute financially to their children’s upbringing.
But what is child support for, and how does it work under the law? Will you be required to pay it, or will you receive it? Your Stockton divorce lawyer can explain all of this in more detail, but in the meantime, this guide walks you through what you need to know about California child support laws.
California Child Support Laws: What You Need to Know
California child support laws say that each parent is equally responsible for providing for his or her child’s financial needs. That means each parent contributes in some way – and when parents separate, they must ask the court to create an order for child support. When a child was born to a couple during the couple’s marriage, parentage isn’t usually an issue – the courts assume that each is the parent of the child. However, in some cases, the court must also open a parentage case to determine who the child’s legal parent is.
A Word on Parentage
When a child is born to an unmarried couple, the court issues an order determining the child’s legal parents. The court has to do this before making any child support determinations – it’s required under California child support laws.
How California Child Support Laws Require Courts to Calculate Dollar Amounts
California has a child support guideline that determines how much money should change hands between parents. That doesn’t mean that parents can’t agree on a different amount – if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse want to, you can figure out how much money is necessary to take care of the kids and agree on a dollar figure. (Sometimes parties in a divorce agree on a higher child support figure as part of divorce negotiations.) As long as it’s fair to your children and the paying parent can afford it, the judge will most likely sign off on it.
If you and your ex cannot agree, California child support laws tell the court look at:
- Childcare expenses
- Health insurance costs
- How many kids the parents share
- How much money each parent earns (or can earn)
- How much other income each parent gets
- How much time each parent spends with the kids
- Mandatory union dues or retirement contributions one or both parents make
- The tax implication for each parent
- Uninsured healthcare costs
- Whether the parents are each supporting kids from other relationships
- Other factors that the courts deem necessary
Once the court has figured out a dollar amount for child support, the judge makes adjustments based on time-share. Time-share is how much time each parent spends with the kids. In most cases, child support payments decrease as time-share increases – which means if you have your children most of the time, you’re responsible for making less of the payment and the other parent is responsible for making more.
If you are the primary custodian (the kids are with you more time than they’re with their other parent), you’re not likely to have to cut a check. The way it works is that only one parent actually pays; the other’s contribution is assumed. If you have the kids the majority of the time, it only makes sense that money is coming out of your pocket to pay for their needs.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About California Child Support Laws?
If you need to talk to a lawyer about California child support laws and how they’ll affect your case, please call us at (209) 989-4425 or get in touch with us online to talk to a lawyer right now. We’ll help you with every aspect of your divorce, from child custody and child support to alimony and property division.