How Is Child Support Calculated In California?

In California child support is determined using a mathematical formula codified in Family Code Section 4055. The most important component is the respective income of the parents, then next most important is the amount of time the parents have custody. Income is key.  Changes in custody time sometimes can result in modest changes in child support payment amounts.

In the real world family lawyers and courts child support calculations are uniformly made using a computer program.  The one used in Los Angeles is called the Dissomaster. Both family law attorneys and the family court judges use the program. While it takes into account the income of the parties and the amount of time spent each parent spends with the kids. The most important factor is income.

The statewide uniform guideline for determining child
support orders is as follows: CS = K ÝHN — (H%)(TN)].
(b) (1) The components of the formula are as follows:
(A) CS = child support amount.
(B) K = amount of both parents’ income to be allocated for child
support as set forth in paragraph (3).
(C) HN = high earner’s net monthly disposable income.
(D) H% = approximate percentage of time that the high earner has
or will have primary physical responsibility for the children
compared to the other parent. In cases in which parents have
different time-sharing arrangements for different children, H% equals
the average of the approximate percentages of time the high earner
parent spends with each child.
(E) TN = total net monthly disposable income of both parties.
(2) To compute net disposable income, see Section 4059.
(3) K (amount of both parents’ income allocated for child support)
equals one plus H% (if H% is less than or equal to 50 percent) or
two minus H% (if H% is greater than 50 percent) times the following
fraction:

Total Net
Disposable
Income Per Month K
$0-800 0.20 + TN/16,000
$801-6,666 0.25
$6,667-10,000 0.10 + 1,000/TN
Over $10,000 0.12 + 800/TN

For example, if H% equals 20 percent and the total monthly net
disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (1 + 0.20) × 0.25, or
0.30. If H% equals 80 percent and the total monthly net disposable
income of the parents is $1,000, K = (2 — 0.80) × 0.25, or 0.30.
(4) For more than one child, multiply CS by:

2 children 1.6
3 children 2
4 children 2.3
5 children 2.5
6 children 2.625
7 children 2.75
8 children 2.813
9 children 2.844
10 children 2.86

(5) If the amount calculated under the formula results in a
positive number, the higher earner shall pay that amount to the lower
earner. If the amount calculated under the formula results in a
negative number, the lower earner shall pay the absolute value of
that amount to the higher earner.

Child Support Amounts Can Be Modified

Child Support Can Be Reduced or Increased by Making a Court Motion

If the facts support it and you make a formal motion to the court for a modification you can have support increased or reduced. For example, if the parent receiving the child support inherits money, gets a large raise or otherwise has an increased ability to support the children, support payments may be reduced for the paying parent. Or, if the paying parent loses his or her job, the court can be asked to reduce support during the period of unemployment or lower income.

Child support orders cannot be changed simply because one parent desires a change. A change in the support amount will be based on evidence proving that sufficient grounds exist to make the change. This requires a showing the circumstances have changed from what they were when the order was entered. (In the many years a child support order remains effective, the parents’ circumstances may change many times and so may the child support order.)

However, as mentioned in above income is key. Big changes in custody time can result inmodest changes in child support payment amounts. So, get an estimate of the changes before going to court to seek an amendment. And, it’s always better to work out a stipulation (agreement) with your spouse and then have the stipulation on the changed amount submitted to the court for approval.

If you want help with your child support payments call us. We have 21 years of experience representing both the paying parent and the receiving parent. We can fight for your rights to ensure you get the best deal.


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