How Is the Amount of Child Support Determined in Los Angeles And How Is Child Support Awarded?

Child support is based on a complex calculation that takes into consideration the parents’ incomes, how much time each parent spends with the child, and any tax deductions that are available to either parent. This formula is applied whenever the support of a minor child is to be determined, including in dissolutions (divorces), paternity, and domestic partnership cases. The Statewide Child Support Guideline can be found at California Family Code Section 4050. The guideline itself is a very complex algebraic formula that uses the parents' income, deductions, and time spent with the child to come up with a dollar amount for child support. Like other states, California has an online child support calculator you can use to come up with the applicable amount in your case (type California child support online calculator into your browser); however, there are variations by county. Los Angeles uses the Santa Clara guideline for example. To determine child support, you must have:

  1. the gross incomes of each parent
  2. the percentage of time each child spends with each parent
  3. any available income tax deductions that the parents can claim, such as mortgage interest
  4. mandatory payroll deductions, such as health insurance, pensions, and union dues, and
  5. child care costs incurred by either parent
  6. Whether spousal support (alimony) is also paid

Once you put this information into the calculator, it will generate an amount, and give you an idea of the support.  Lawyers’ and judges’ calculators are more advanced and the amount may vary some from the online calculator based on county, inputs such as cost of insurance, expenses for a job, mortgage expense, and add-ons for the children such as the cost of private school, orthodontia, etc.

One Must Formally Ask the Court for Child Support

If there is no order from a court at present to pay child support, then no one is legally obligated to pay.  To obtain support a parent must ask the court via a written request for orders. The applicant uses Judicial Council form FL-300 and includes income and expense information on the Judicial Council form FL-150 income and expense declaration.  The other parent would respond to the request for orders with Judicial Council form FL-320 declaration in response to request for orders and that parent’s FL-150 income and expense declaration.


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