In California, both parents have a duty to support their children until they are 18 years old, and until they’re 19 if they’re still in high school and unmarried. If the child is disabled, California courts may impose child support obligations on parents well into adulthood. Parental responsibility functions as a matter of law and can be ordered by courts in California regardless of marital status or whether the child is biologically related to the parent. If you’re entitled to child support and believe you’re getting less than you should, or if you think you’re paying too much, it’s important to consult with an experienced California child support attorney that can help you understand and enforce your rights. Envision Family Law, LLP is known for providing excellent personal service to clients and achieving great results.

California’s Mandatory Formula

California Family Code § 4055 sets forth how much child support must be paid by one parent to the other. The following factors are considered when determining the award:

  • The income of the parents;
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the children and
  • Discretionary factors such as the special needs or special talents of the child.

The income of each parent is determined by examining all sources of income including:

  • Earnings from wages and self-employment;
  • Unemployment benefits;
  • Pensions;
  • Worker’s compensation benefits;
  • Social security benefits;
  • Interest from investments;
  • Disability benefits;
  • Dividends from stocks;
  • Rental property income and
  • Lottery winnings.

The court will deduct the cost of mandatory expenses of the parent to calculate income for the purpose of child support. These are some of the relevant deductions:

  • Mandatory union dues;
  • Mandatory retirement plan contributions;
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Child support and spousal support that’s already been ordered and
  • The costs of raising children from another relationship.

The amount of time that a parent spends with the child is called time-share and the less time spent with the children, the more money that parent will pay in child support. In addition to providing for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, the amount of child support will also include an analysis of the childrens’ needs including health insurance, extra-curricular activities such as lessons, sports, field trips and other activities. In California, child support is intended to reflect the standard of living during the marriage which is set forth in Family Code § 4053 that states, “child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living for the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.” Despite the requirement of strict adherence to the guidance, child support issues can become contentious when parents try to hide income and create phony expenses.

Who Is A Parent For The Purpose of Child Support?

Determining who the father is for the purpose of child support is not as straightforward as one might think. In California, California will assume that a married couple are the parents of a child, establishing paternity automatically. If the father does not contest this status in a timely manner, he will be considered the father and financially responsible for supporting the child if the couple separates or divorces later. In such cases, a biological father would be relieved of this responsibility. The same approach applies to offspring of a registered domestic partnership in California. If the mother is unmarried, fatherhood must be established through a voluntary declaration of paternity or by obtaining a court order of paternity. Adoptive parents become the legal parents of a child with all of its rights and responsibilities, including child support. Surrogacy contracts name the parents as the ones contracting the services of the surrogate and become the legal parents of the child. In such cases, the biological parents have no obligation whatsoever to support the child.

California Child Support Attorney

If you believe you’re entitled to child support that you’re not receiving or if you believe you’re paying too much, it’s important to hire an experienced California child support attorney that has experience in this area. Envision Family Law, LLP is the law firm that California parents trust to help them with their child support matters.