The amount of child support is set using a formula established by the legislature. The formula uses the number of children, the incomes of the parents, and the percentage of time the children spend with each parent. A very simplified summary is laid out below - for a detailed review, please refer to Family Code sections 4050-4076.
NOTE: Guideline child support calculations only cover daily living expenses. The court will order additional support to cover other expenses on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of Additional Support are: child care expenses, health insurance premiums, uninsured health costs, special educational needs, etc.
The formula is complex but, as a general rule, if the paying parent has no custody time with the children, the support order can be roughly calculated using this chart:
NUMBER OF CHILDREN
PERCENTAGE OF NET INCOME
CUSTODY TIME: As custody time for the paying parent increases, the percentage of net income used to calculate support goes down and therefore the child support amount goes down.
CUSTODIAL PARENT'S INCOME: If the paying parent has no custody or visitation time with the children, the custodial parent's income will not affect the support amount. But, if the paying parent has some custody or visitation time, the custodial parent's income will affect the support amount - as the custodial parent's net income increases, the guideline child support amount decreases.
Types of income
|COUNTED AS INCOME
||NOT COUNTED AS INCOME|
- Self employment
- Unemployment benefits
- Social Security benefits
- Workers' compensation
- Disability benefits
- Many other types of income such as lottery winnings, insurance
awards, rents, dividends, interest, etc.
- CalWorks (welfare)
- SSI (supplemental security income)
- GA (general assistance)
IMPUTED INCOME: Even if the paying parent has no income, the court may calculate support using either income estimated from what the parent could earn based on skills, education, or past history, or the court may simply rule that the parent has the ability to earn at least minimum wage and calculate support accordingly. The court may also impute such earning ability to the parent with primary custody.
OTHER RESOURCES - The court may consider other resources available to the parents in increasing or decreasing the amount of the support order. NEW SPOUSE INCOME - The income of a new spouse is not used in calculating the support amount (note: although the income of the new spouse income is not added into the formula, the fact that the new spouse has income will have an effect on the parent's tax rate and will indirectly affect the support calculation by a small amount.)
Guideline Child Support Calculations
Guideline support is calculated using gross income. Gross income is the (total of all income - before deductions are taken out of a person’s paycheck.) Deductions include, but are not limited to: Federal and state taxes, Social Security taxes, state disability insurance, health insurance premium cost, mandatory union dues, and mandatory retirement deductions. A Person’s gross income figure will almost always be larger than take home pay (net pay) because most people have other deductions taken from their paychecks.
ADDITIONAL DEDUCTIONS - The court may allow additional deductions, such as: employment expenses, exceptional healthcare costs, uninsured catastrophic losses, etc. (Parties usually must provide proof of such costs via receipts/documentation to the court).
ADDITIONAL INCOME AND RESOURCES - The court may also consider other income resources available to the paying parent in addition to the paying parent’s regular income to increase the child support amount. Examples are: stocks and bonds.