Child support laws in California are different from those in other states, and the courts use a very specific set of guidelines to determine how much child support will change hands between parents. Typically, when a judge issues a custody order, he or she will also issue a child support order.
For most people, it makes sense to work with a family law attorney in Stockton during divorce. Your lawyer will be able to help you come up with a custody agreement and let you know how much child support you can expect to pay or receive once the judge has issued an order.
What Are the Child Support Laws in California?
California Family Code 4053 governs child support in the state of California. The bottom line is that both parents, regardless of their marital status—whether they were never married, are married, or are divorced—are responsible for contributing to their child’s support. Sometimes one parent can be more responsible for contributing than the other is, but it’s all based on what’s best for the child and how capable each parent is.
The law requires that kids share the same standard of living that both their parents enjoy.
What the Law Presumes About a Child’s Standard of Living
Child support can be used to improve a parent’s standard of living because by extension, the child’s standard of living would also improve. What that means is that a parent can use child support to pay rent and bills because the child also benefits from those things; it also means that child support can be used to reduce the financial gap between each parent.
If the custodial parent makes $1,000 per month and can only afford a one-bedroom apartment, but the non-custodial parent makes $5,000 per month, child support payments can be used to shrink that gap.
Child Support Laws in California: How Support is Calculated
The courts can only issue a child support order after they’ve applied the state’s guidelines. The calculation includes:
- The number of children involved in the case
- The custody arrangement (where the children live most of the time)
- Each parent’s tax liabilities
- Whether one or both parents supports a child from a previous relationship
- How much the children’s healthcare costs
- Whether parents have mandatory retirement contributions or other job-related expenses
- Other relevant costs, such as day care, education, and travel
There are some special circumstances that can make the standard amount of child support unfair when the court follows the guidelines. In those cases, the courts can make the appropriate adjustments. Parents can also agree to pay more, or, in very rare cases, to pay less.
For example, if one child lives with one parent and another child lives with the other, the child support guidelines need to be modified so the court can determine a fair amount of support. Another example may be if one parent’s housing costs far more than the other’s does while the parents share equal parenting time, or if a child has special medical needs that require more resources.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Child Support Laws in California?
As experienced, knowledgeable Stockton family law attorneys, we can help you during this difficult time.
Call us at 209-910-9865 to let us know what you need. We’ll give you case-specific legal advice that you can use to begin moving forward.