Child support payments are intended to help parents share the costs of raising their children after a divorce. Understanding the various factors that go into child support in California can provide you with added help in achieving the right arrangements for your children and your finances. Here are some facts you should know about child support in our state.
No Limit on Child Support
California does not impose any upper limits on the amount of child support that can be ordered. Instead, child support in California is usually calculated using a guideline that considers the following factors:
- Income levels for both parents
- Time spent with each parent
- Number of children
- Tax-deductible expenses and tax filing status
- Existing child support and spousal support payments made
- Spousal support received
In some instances, the courts may deviate somewhat from the child support calculations of the guideline. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. Child support amounts for amounts less than the California guideline recommendations may be subject to increases; those at or above the recommended amount are less likely to be changed by the courts.
Gross income can be calculated by adding up all sources of monetary support from employment, commissions, benefits, gambling and lottery winnings, dividends and interest and profits from business operations. Money received as public assistance or paid out in child support or alimony, however, can usually be excluded from the calculations used to determine child support in California.
Health Care, Child Care and Tuition
Certain expenses may be shared equally between parents regardless of the child support awarded by the court. These can include costs for health care, child care and tuition for educational programs. Depending on the financial resources and the court’s assessment, one or both parents may be held responsible for the costs of these necessities.
Imputed Income Can Be Used to Figure Child Support
If the court believes that one parent is deliberately remaining unemployed or underemployed to avoid paying child support, it may use imputed income to determine the amount of child support that parent should be paying. Imputed income is the amount that the court decides the individual could earn based on his or her educational level, job skills and employment history. This practice is intended to prevent parents from avoiding their responsibilities to provide support for their minor children.
Child Support Orders Can Be Modified
If one parent loses a job or if changes have been made in the amount of time spent with each parent, it may be possible to modify the court-ordered child support temporarily or on a permanent basis. This can be easier if the amount of child support ordered by the court is less than the recommended amount under California guidelines. Changes in employment, income levels, legal status and family size can be used as the basis for a request in the child support order. The current financial situations of both parents will be taken into consideration by the courts to determine whether a modification is justified and practical for all parties involved.
Working with an attorney from the Law Office of Julia Ann Brungess who specializes in family law in the state of California can provide added support for parents dealing with child support issues. These dedicated legal professionals can provide the right options for your family and can help you move forward after a divorce.