What Are California’s Child Support Laws?

holding money

Like all the other states, California has its own set of laws regarding child support. Following a divorce or separation, child support is an amount of money the court can order one parent or both to pay each month for the benefit of the child. California’s child support guidelines explain how the courts determine child support and the amount of support needed.

Child support matters can often seem clear cut, but these cases can also be very emotional and complicated affairs that are tied in with issues like divorce or paternity. Our California child support lawyers are here to answer common questions regarding child support.

How Does the Court Determine Support?

The exact amount of money that is paid toward child support is determined based on a few factors. Both parents are legally responsible for financially supporting the child. The court hands down an order for child support based on each parent’s income as well as how much time each spends with the child.

A parent is legally responsible for paying child support to benefit the child. This continues until the following situations arise:

  • The child turns 18 and has already graduated from high school. If the child is still in high school full-time or attends on a part-time basis due to medical reasons, they continue to receive support.

  • The child has turned 19.

  • The child has gotten married.

  • The child has died.

  • The child has been emancipated or has joined the military.

Both parents must fill out a document known as the Income and Expense Declaration and include proof of their income. Those who fail to do this are under penalty of perjury of the court.

How Much Child Support is Needed

The judge will calculate a specific amount of money that each parent must pay toward child support. In order to do this, the judge examines each parent’s net disposable income. This is the income the parents earn after taxes, health premiums, and other deductions are taken into consideration. This includes any amount currently being paid for spousal support and the costs of support for other children from prior relationships.

The court will also take into consideration all other sources of income each parent receives. Those sources include the following:

  • Tips

  • Commissions

  • Overtime

  • Bonuses

  • Employment wages

  • Disability and workers’ compensation benefits

  • Unemployment benefits

  • Self-employment earnings

  • Rental property income

  • Stocks and dividends

  • Interest earned on investments

  • Social Security and pensions

  • State lottery and prize winnings

The court establishes the child support based on how much time each parent spends with the child, which is known as time-sharing. Generally, the parent who spends more time with the child pays less while the one who spends less time with the child pays more in child support.

Expenses Included in Child Support

Parents are required to pay toward certain needs for their children. The following expenses are included when calculating child support:

  • Monetary support

  • Health insurance

  • Back payments

  • Interest on back payments

Monetary support involves all the essentials for the child’s life. This includes housing, food, clothing, education, and more. The judge may order additional expenses to be paid for the following:

  • Childcare

  • Travel costs for visitation

  • Unpaid medical bills

  • Extracurricular activities

Child Support Laws and Child’s Standard of Living

In California, child support can also be used to improve the standard of the parent with whom the child lives. This is acceptable because it also improves the child’s standard of living as well. For example, the money can be used to pay for rent and various monthly bills because they help the child as well as the parent.


If you live in California and have a child support concern, contact the Law Offices of Michael D. Iverson today at (951) 418-2770 to speak to our California family lawyer.

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