Child Support

California Child Support Guidelines

Background
In 1984 the California Legislature enacted the Agnos Minimum Child Support Standards Act. This law established minimum levels of child support.

Prior to the law being passed, support calculations in California had no clear framework thereby creating tremendous confusion for parents and the courts.

The statutes establishment of minimum levels of child support means just that. Factors based on such things as the child’s needs, hardships, special medical or educational concerns and costs may increase the support amount the judge may order. These support amounts may be above the statutory minimums. The Child Support Guideline established over 20 years ago was amended, effective July 1, 1992.

The key factors influencing the calculation of child support are: the percentage of visitation or custodial time share, the gross incomes of the parties and the tax advantages or disadvantages the paying and or recipient parent may have.

The child support calculator is driven by a complicated formula. For these reasons, software programs have been created to assist the parties, attorneys and judges in assessing the support amounts.

Length of Time Support is Paid
The Family Code requires that child support must be paid until the child becomes 18, unless the child has not graduated from high school, in which case the child support continues until the child has graduated high school or up to the age of 19, which ever occurs first. Presently, California law does not give judges the power to make a parent support a child beyond the age of 19, unless the child is physically or mentally disabled. However, parents can agree that child support can continue into college years. Such properly prepared agreements will be enforced by the Family Law Court.

Unless the custodial parent agrees otherwise, all child support is to be paid by a wage assignment. This means that the child support payments are to be deducted from the wages of the parent who is obligated to pay child support.

The statutes establishment of minimum levels of child support means just that. Factors based on such things as the child’s needs, hardships, special medical or educational concerns and costs may increase the support amount the judge may order. These support amounts may be above the statutory minimums. The Child Support Guideline established over 20 years ago was amended, effective July 1, 1992.

The key factors influencing the calculation of child support are: the percentage of visitation or custodial time share, the gross incomes of the parties and the tax advantages or disadvantages the paying and or recipient parent may have.

The child support calculator is driven by a complicated formula. For these reasons, software programs have been created to assist the parties, attorneys and judges in assessing the support amounts.

FAQs

How long do I have to pay child support?
Generally, the duty to pay child support extends until the child reaches the age of majority, or age 18. However, if the child is unmarried and a full-time high school student, then support extends until that child completes high school or turns 19.

Do I have to pay child support even if I have limited or no income?
Payment of child support is considered a duty, so yes, you will have to pay child support. However, if the obligor’s net monthly disposable income is less than one thousand dollars, then the judge may make a low-income adjustment to the guideline child support.

If the other parent refuses to work, what remedy do I have?
The court is empowered to impute income to a parent if the judge believes that the parent is capable of working, and that the labor market can provide such work.

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