How is Child Support Calculated and When Does it Start and End?

Under California law, parents have a duty to support their children financially. In the context of shared custody, this often means that one parent will have to pay the other parent child support. Many people lack a clear understanding of the laws surrounding child support, though, and when they find themselves in a situation where they may be subject to a support order, they are unsure of how they can protect their rights. If you have questions about child support and how it is calculated, it is smart to speak to a Bay Area child support lawyer at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, you can continue reading to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about child support.

How is child support calculated?

 In California, child support is calculated using a complex formula that considers various factors including the parents’ income, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, tax deductions, and other relevant financial information. Factors such as each parent’s gross income, mandatory payroll deductions, the number of children, health insurance costs, and any other relevant expenses are all considered to ensure the support amount is fair and adequate for the child’s needs.

What is Dissomaster?

The primary tool used for making child support calculations is a computer software program known as the Dissomaster. This program incorporates the statewide uniform guideline formula set forth in California Family Code Section 4055. The Dissomaster inputs the relevant financial details of both parents and outputs a recommended child support amount based on the statutory guidelines.

What documents should I bring to an attorney for a consultation on child support?

When consulting with an attorney about child support, it is essential to bring comprehensive documentation to provide a clear financial picture. These documents typically include:

  • Recent pay stubs
  • Documentation of any other sources of income
  • Federal and state tax returns, including all schedules and W-2 forms
  • A list of monthly expenses, including housing, utilities, transportation, and child-related expenses, such as childcare, school tuition, and extracurricular activities
  • Any current custody and visitation orders or agreements
  • Health insurance premium details and any out-of-pocket medical expenses for the child
  • Records of any alimony or child support received or paid
  • Any other financial documentation that may impact your income or expenses, such as business income and expenses if self-employed

When does child support start and when does it end? 

In California, child support typically starts from the date a request for support is filed with the court, although the court has the discretion to order it to begin at a later date if circumstances warrant. Under California Family Code Section 4001, a parent can request child support any time before the child turns 18. Once ordered, child support is generally paid until the child turns 18 years old. However, if the child is still a full-time high school student and not self-supporting, support continues until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever occurs first, as specified under California Family Code Section 3901.

Additionally, child support may terminate earlier if the child becomes emancipated through marriage, joining the military, or by a court order. In special circumstances, support can be extended beyond the age of 18 if the child has special needs or if the parents agree to continue support. Changes in circumstances, such as significant changes in either parent’s income or changes in custody arrangements, can also lead to modifications of the support order at any time.

Meet with a Skilled California Child Support Attorney

If you want to learn more about child support, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney. The skilled California child support attorneys of Bay Area Family Law Center can inform you of your options and help you seek an outcome that benefits your child and protects your interests. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 925-258-2020 to arrange a conference.

This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your State.

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