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How is child support calculated in California?

In California, divorcing parents may decide on their own how to handle child support issues. However, if no agreement is reached, the state has a guideline in place to determine how much support a parent must pay. There are many variables that can influence how much support each parent may pay. Some of these variables include how much a parent earns or may earn or how many children each parent is responsible for.

The court will also take into consideration other expenses that a parent may have. For example, health insurance costs and mandatory deductions for retirement or union dues may reduce the amount of support owed. If a parent pays for health care costs not covered by insurance or has partial custody of the child, that may also play a role in how much support may be owed.

When determining how much income a parent has, the court will use the net disposable income of the parent. This is the money left over after mandatory deductions as well as state and federal tax payments. Social Security benefits that a parent receives as well as other forms of state or federal aid may not be included in this figure. However, income derived from sources other than wages from a job may be included if they occur regularly.

In addition to these factors, a court may use any other metric that it sees fit to ensure an appropriate support order is created. After an order is created, it is legally binding and may be difficult to change or modify. Anyone who is seeking child support may wish to talk to a family law attorney for assistance in the matter.

Source: The Judicial Council of California , "Child Support", October 18, 2014

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