California has clear guidelines and a specific formula for calculating child support payments. These laws ensure the well-being of children when parents separate or divorce.
Understanding the child support calculation process can help you create a solid financial plan for your life after divorce.
Determining gross income
The child support calculation begins with determining the gross income of both parents. Gross income includes salaries as well as wages, bonuses, rental income and other sources of income.
Deducting mandatory expenses
The court deducts certain mandatory expenses from the gross income, including federal and state income taxes, Social Security and mandatory retirement contributions. These deductions result in the net disposable income.
Applying the guideline formula
The state uses a guideline formula to calculate child support. California Family Code Section 4055 outlines the exact formula. It considers the net disposable income of both parents, each person’s percentage of parenting time and the number of children involved.
Adjusting for additional factors
The court also considers childcare expenses necessary for a parent to work. Parents typically divide these costs proportionally based on their income.
Health insurance premiums and medical expenses are also part of the calculation. The court may assign a portion of these costs to each parent based on their respective incomes.
Finally, the calculation factors in financial responsibility either parent has for a child from a previous relationship.
The court uses all this data to calculate the total child support obligation. The non-custodial parent is usually responsible for paying the determined amount to the custodial parent. However, the judge can deviate from the guideline formula in special circumstances such as unequal parenting time.