What Does Child Support Cover in California?

Navigating Child Support During a Divorce in California

Child Support in California: The Guide

I am Scott Levin, a San Diego child support attorney and mediator. During my many years as a California child support lawyer as the founder of San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law, I have answered so many questions about child support in California as the issue of child support is highly important for my clients.

I assist clients in understanding how child support is calculated using the Dissomaster calculator. This assistance helps co-parents reach agreements during mediation. This helps co-parents reach agreements during mediation.

Child support is mandated by law. It is calculated using a formula. The formula considers the number of children, the amount of time spent with each parent, and the incomes of both parents. Unless the parties split time evenly and make the same amount of money (which is extremely uncommon), there will always be a guideline child support amount.

What is California Child Support?

Child support is money given by a parent without custody to the parent with custody to help raise the child. This money helps cover the costs of raising the child. These costs can include basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education.

The primary goal of child support is to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that their standard of living is maintained despite the separation or divorce of their parents. A child support attorney can assist in ensuring that the amount set is fair and adequate for the child’s needs.

Who can request child support in California?

In California, either parent can request child support, whether during a divorce, legal separation, or paternity action. A legal guardian or the California DCSS can ask for child support for a child. This ensures that children receive adequate financial support regardless of the custodial arrangements or living situations. A child support lawyer can help you navigate the process and file the necessary paperwork correctly.

How is child support calculated in California?

California calculates child support using a guideline formula set by state law. The formula looks at the incomes of both parents. It also considers how much time each parent spends with the child. Additionally, it takes into account extra costs such as health insurance and union dues.

The formula also considers tax filings and deductions. The goal is to determine a fair amount that meets the child’s needs and considers the parents’ financial situation. A child support attorney can help you understand and apply the guideline formula to your specific situation.

The Actual Child Support Formula in California

In California, the child support calculation is represented by the formula CS = K (HN – (H%)(TN)), where CS is the child support sum, K is the total combined income designated for child support, HN is the net monthly disposable income of the higher-earning parent, and H% signifies the percentage of time the higher-earning parent spends with the child.

As a California child support attorney in San Diego, I am intimately familiar with the calculation and have even paid for extensive one on one tutoring from the founder of the Dissomaster calculator.

What factors influence the amount of child support?

Several factors influence the amount of child support, including:

  • Income of both parents: This includes wages, bonuses, self-employment income, and other sources of income.
  • Parenting time: The percentage of time the child spends with each parent can significantly impact the support amount.
  • Health insurance and medical costs: Which parent is paying for the child’s health insurance and any extraordinary medical expenses.
  • Childcare costs: Necessary for the custodial parent to work or attend school.
  • Other factors: Such as special needs of the child or educational expenses. Speaking with a child support lawyer can help you understand how certain factors are considered in the calculation. It ensures that all crucial information is included in the process.

How are child support and custody related?

Child support and custody are related but separate issues. Child support is based on each parent’s income and the amount of time they spend with the child. Custody arrangements can affect the support amount since more time spent with the child may reduce the amount owed.

A child support lawyer can help you understand how custody and support are related. They can also assist with custody and support cases to ensure fairness.

What Expenses Does California Child Support Cover?

In California, child support covers ordinary living expenses for a child. California child support laws focus on the essential needs. An old saying I have heard hundreds of times is that support covers: ‘no holes in the soles, safe place to live and food in the belly.’ The essentials include the following:

Rent or Mortgage for a Larger Home

When a family has children, they often require a larger living space to accommodate their needs. This may mean renting or purchasing a home with additional bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas. The increased cost of rent or a mortgage for a larger home is considered part of the ordinary living expenses covered by child support in California.

Higher Utilities Due to a Larger Living Space

With a larger home comes increased utility costs. More space means more area to heat, cool, and light, resulting in higher electricity, gas, and water bills. These increased utility costs, which are directly related to providing a suitable living environment for the children, are also covered by child support payments.

Food for the Child

Feeding a growing child is a significant expense for any parent. Child support in California takes into account the cost of groceries, meals, and snacks necessary to provide a healthy, balanced diet for the child. This may include special dietary needs or preferences, which can add to the overall food expenses.

Clothing, Diapers, and Other Necessities

Children require a variety of essentials, depending on their age and needs. Clothing is a constant expense as children grow and styles change. Infants and toddlers need diapers, which can be a substantial cost. Other necessities may include:

  • Shoes
  • Outerwear (coats, hats, gloves)
  • School uniforms or dress codes
  • Age-appropriate toys and books
  • Personal care items (toothbrush, hairbrush, etc.)
  • Safety equipment (car seats, baby gates, etc.)

The guideline formula for child support in California is designed to address regular living costs, which include these elements. As children get older, their needs change. The costs for these essentials may also vary. However, it is still important to provide for the child’s care.

What Does Child Support Not Cover?

Child support does not cover these expenses, but most families still have to pay for them. You need to determine how to cover these costs related to the child. And so agreements for what will be covered and how the costs are shared between parents will be discussed during mediation for child support.

Childcare Expenses Due to Employment or Education (Family Code 4062(a)(1))

Childcare expenses incurred by either parent due to employment, education or training are not included in basic child support calculation. Parents sometimes need to invest in tools or resources that can improve their job prospects or increase their income.

This can ultimately benefit their child in the long run. By investing in their own career development, parents are able to provide a better future for their child. This financial investment can lead to greater opportunities and stability for the family.

Under California Family Code 4062(a)(1), these childcare expenses are often split equally 50/50 between the parents or divided proportionally based on their income differentials. Some parents agree to share childcare costs only after reaching a mutual agreement, while others do not require consent beforehand.

Extracurricular Activities (Sports, Music, Dance, etc.)

Extracurricular activities are important for kids. They help them learn new things, develop skills, and make friends.

Expenses for youth sports and travel sports teams are not included in the basic child support calculation. These costs can range from a few hundred dollars per activity to thousands of dollars per season for club travel sports.

They cover things like equipment, uniforms, and travel expenses. These costs can add up to thousands of dollars per season, including equipment, uniforms, and travel expenses.

Parents may agree to split these costs evenly or proportionally based on their income. Do parents need to agree in advance before they are required to share in the cost, or is such consent not required? Parents should talk openly about their child’s hobbies and how much they cost. This way, they can make sure their child can join in while also considering each parent’s money situation.

School Costs (Tuition, Supplies, Field Trips)

Educational expenses beyond the basic necessities are not typically included in the standard child support calculation. These costs may include private school tuition, school supplies, textbooks, technology fees, and field trip expenses.

Parents can choose to send their child to a private school. They can split the tuition costs equally or based on their income. Similarly, school supplies, field trips, and other education-related expenses may be divided between the parents.

Some of our clients disagree about sending their child to private school. If one parent is willing to pay the tuition, can they do so without the other parent’s contribution? It depends on the Marital Settlement Agreement and how it addresses legal custody related to school choice.

Special Education Needs

Children with special education needs often require additional services and support, which can result in increased expenses. These costs may include specialized therapy, tutoring, adaptive equipment, or accommodations.

As with other education-related expenses, the costs associated with special education needs are not typically included in the basic child support calculation. Parents may need to work together to determine how to cover these expenses, either by agreeing to split the costs or by seeking a court order.

Out-Of-Pocket Medical Costs (Co-pays, Deductibles, Prescriptions)

Medical insurance costs are factored into child support calculations. Child support payments do not include any extra medical expenses that insurance does not cover. Patients may incur expenses such as co-pays, deductibles, and prescription costs that insurance does not cover. In many cases, parents split these uncovered medical costs evenly or proportionally based on their incomes.

Parents ought to maintain accurate documentation of their child’s healthcare costs and discuss their medical requirements candidly. The other parent needs to reimburse the parent who makes these payments directly. The spouses should agree on how reimbursements are paid and when they will be made during the divorce settlement.

Travel Expenses for Visitation with the Noncustodial Parent

When parents live a significant distance apart, travel expenses for visitation with the noncustodial parent can become a substantial cost. These expenses may include airfare, gas, lodging, and meals associated with transporting the child between the parents’ homes. In most cases, travel expenses are not included in the basic child support calculation and must be addressed separately.

Parents may agree to split these costs evenly or proportionally based on their income, or they may seek a court order to determine how these expenses will be handled. It’s important for parents to work together to minimize travel expenses while still ensuring that the child has the opportunity to maintain a strong relationship with both parents, regardless of the distance between them.

Child Support Legal Process – Frequently Asked Questions

How do you apply for child support in California?

You can apply for child support through the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) or as part of a family court case. To apply, submit an application with proof of income and details about the child. A child support attorney can help you gather the required documents, file the application correctly, and represent you in court if needed.

What documents are needed to file for child support?

Necessary documents typically include proof of income (such as pay stubs, tax returns, and W-2 forms), a completed child support application, and any existing custody agreements or court orders. Additional documents may be required depending on your specific situation. A child support lawyer can assist you in identifying and organizing all the necessary documents to strengthen your case.

How is a child support order enforced?

Child support orders are enforced in various ways. One way is by deducting money directly from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck. Another way is by intercepting tax refunds.

Licenses can also be revoked as a means of enforcement. Charges can be filed for disobeying court orders. If you are having trouble receiving payments, a child support attorney can help enforce the order and ensure compliance.

Can a child support order be modified?

Either parent can request a change to a child support order if there are significant changes. These changes can include a change in income, losing a job, or changes in the child’s needs or custody. A child support lawyer can guide you through the process of requesting a modification and help present a strong case to the court.

How long does it take to get a child support order?

The time it takes to obtain a child support order can vary, but it generally takes several months from the initial filing to the issuance of the order. The time it takes to resolve a case can vary. This depends on factors such as the complexity of the case and the cooperation between parents.

A lawyer for child support can help by ensuring all paperwork is filed correctly and representing you in court. This can speed up the process. The lawyer will make sure everything is done properly. They will also advocate for you in court.

What can I do if the other parent refuses to pay child support?

If the other parent refuses to pay child support, there are several enforcement actions that can be taken. These include wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, revoking licenses, and potentially filing contempt of court charges. A child support attorney can assist you in taking the appropriate legal actions to ensure that the support is paid and that the non-compliant parent faces the necessary consequences.

What are the costs and fees for applying for child support?

While the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) does not charge application fees for child support services, there may be other court-related fees involved in filing for support. A child support lawyer can explain any potential costs and help you understand your financial responsibilities in the process.

Can a parent avoid paying child support by quitting their job?

Voluntarily quitting a job to avoid paying child support is not viewed favorably by the court. The court may impute income to the parent, which means they will base the support obligation on what the parent could potentially earn rather than their actual income. A child support lawyer can provide evidence to the court regarding a parent’s income. They prioritize the child’s needs above all else.

California Child Support Special Circumstances

How does child support work if one parent lives in another state?

If one parent lives in a different state, child support can still be arranged and enforced. This can be done through the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This law enables states to cooperate in ensuring the enforcement of child support orders. A child support attorney can help with cases involving support across different states and make sure the support order is followed.

What if the non-custodial parent is self-employed?

If the non-custodial parent is self-employed, calculating income for child support can be more complex. The court will look at the parent’s tax returns, business expenses, and other financial documents to determine their income. A lawyer who focuses on child support can ensure that a self-employed parent’s income is accurately calculated. They can also make sure that the support amount is fair.

Does remarriage affect child support obligations?

Remarriage itself does not directly affect child support obligations. However, the new spouse’s income is generally not considered when calculating child support. Nonetheless, changes in household expenses or the financial situation of the parents may be relevant. A child support attorney can provide guidance on how remarriage might impact your specific case and any potential adjustments needed.

Contact Us Today to Explore Mediation for Child Support in California

At San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law, we accurately calculate child support and help you establish a plan for covering other expenses. I am an experienced mediator and provide insight and knowledge for clients so they make informed thoughtful agreements.

As a skilled negotiator, I strive to help our clients reach fair settlements that protect children and co-parents alike.

Our office focuses on your goals and needs while controlling costs and emotional stress. We guide parties through property, support, and parenting issues in a private mediation setting.

To learn more about how San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law can assist with your child support and other family law matters, call us at (858) 255-1321 or contact us online. We proudly serve San Diego, Orange County, and surrounding communities.