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How is child support calculated in California?

Having a child means many things to parents in California and elsewhere. For the most part, it means taking on the role as a caregiver and providing the child with his or her emotional, physical and financial needs. This needs still need to be met whether parents are together or not. Thus, during the divorce process, parents often need to address issues such as child support.

How is child support calculated in California? Like other states, California has a statewide formula to calculate child support. This is known as a guideline, as it is used to figure out how much child support should be paid in a given situation. If parents attempt to reach a child support agreement and cannot, this is when a judge will step in to decide the child support amount based on the guidelines.

There are different factors that will be looked at when establishing child support base don these guidelines. To begin, it looks at how much money the parents earn or could earn, how much the other income each parent receives, how many children these parents have together, how much time each parent spends with their children, the actual tax filing of each parent, support of children from other relationships, health insurance expenses, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, the cost of sharing daycare and uninsured healthcare costs and other similar factors.

In addition to calculating child support owed, this agreement may also require parents to share certain costs. This can include childcare, children's reasonable health-care expenses, traveling for visitation from one parent to the other, children's educational needs and other special needs.

Caring for a child can be expensive, especially when a parent is doing it entirely or primarily on their own. Thus, obtaining child support can be very vital and beneficial. Therefore, it is important to understand your rights for this payment and how to establish such an order.

Source:, "Child Support," accessed April 23, 2018

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