In the state of California, both parents are expected to financially provide for a child, even if the parents are no longer together. The state uses a number of different factors to determine how much each parent is expected to provide, including income and the amount of time the parent gets to be with their child.
The courts use child support guidelines to determine the amount of financial support both parents are expected to provide. Income is considered to be any money that is made from wages, interest accumulated from investment accounts, workers' compensation and unemployment compensation. The court does factor into account how much the parent pays in taxes, the cost of their health insurance and mandatory union dues. The court may also deduct certain costs from the parent's income, include expenses related to the parent's job and their basic living expenses.
The judge will also consider the amount of time the parent spends taking care of the child into consideration. If the parent spends more time with the child, the amount of financial support required to be paid by the parent will be lower than a parent who spends less time taking care of the child.
While determining how much a parent should be held responsible for paying in child support can be done relatively quickly and easily with the use of the guidelines, it can sometimes be difficult to actually make the parent pay. A family law attorney can provide recommendations for the enforcement of child support orders if a client has been unable to obtain the payments. If the parent responsible for making the payments can no longer afford what was ordered, the attorney can request a modification of the child support order based on the client's adverse change in his or her financial situation.
Source: San Diego County Department of Child Support Services , "Calculating Child Support", accessed on March 3, 2015