Child support payments are one of the most significant parts of deliberating a divorce. Higher-earning parents, especially if they are deemed non-custodial parents, are usually ordered to pay a certain amount of money per month in child support to the custodial parents. Each child support calculation is different. Understanding the factors that go into these specific formulas is crucial to comprehending the overall process and common payment rates for non-custodial parents in California.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is a regular payment, made by a parent who does not have custody of their children, to help with the children’s financial maintenance. The divorce process will involve determining child support obligations if the couple have children. However, child support will also be due even if the couple never married. The only requirements for requesting child support are proof of maternity or paternity. California has a set of special child support regulations, as child support is handled at the state level.
How Is Child Support Decided?
Legally, both parents are obligated to provide for their child’s financial needs. The amount of time each parent physically spends with the child or children and the income levels of both parents will be considered when determining the child support order. For example, if they do not retain custody, a higher-earning spouse will be made to pay child support to the lower-earning spouse. The guardianship decision for these children is also considered, with the non-custodial parent ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent to compensate for their absence from raising the child.
Factors Affecting Child Support Payments
Child support in California is calculated using a fairly complex formula; however, each factor that goes into the final amount calculation is self-explanatory. The fundamental structure is simple as well. Generally speaking, the wider the economic gap between the parents and the less time that parent spends with their kids, the more child support that parent will be required to pay. Child support must be determined as part of any of the following litigation proceedings:
- Dissolution of marriage cases, or divorces
- Child support discussion involving unmarried parents
- Separation and dissolution of domestic partnerships
- Any revisions to previously determined child support orders
Child support is calculated using the formula CS = K (HN – H%)(TN), with each letter representing an essential amount. Starting at the beginning, CS stands for the total amount of child support determined by the equation. K is equal to the total income of both parents that must go towards child support, and HN stands for “high net,” representing the amount of disposable income held by the higher-earning spouse. H% represents the amount of time the higher-earning spouse spends with their child or children according to the custody agreement between both spouses, and TN is the overall total net of both parents.
How Is Child Support Calculated for Multiple Children
For multiple children, this same equation is used to determine the base amount of money needed for child support payments. Then, for each subsequent child, that rate is multiplied by certain coefficients to determine the total amount of support for each child. It may seem like common sense to multiply the initial equation by the number of children in need of support. However, for those supporting multiple children, these payments could completely take over their income, so the state ensures that non-custodial parents still support their children without breaking the bank. The multiplication amounts in these calculations are as follows:
- Two children: multiply the CS amount by 1.6
- Three children: multiply the CS amount by 2
- Four children: multiply the CS amount by 2.3
- Five children: multiply the CS amount by 2.5
The details of California Family Code § 4055(b)(4) (2022) provide a full breakdown of these formulas and multipliers for up to ten children.
Common Questions About Child Support in California
Q: What Is the Average Child Support Payment for One Child in California?
A: According to the court, one child’s upbringing costs approximately $1,000 per month. Using that as an example, a non-custodial parent’s income could be 66.6% of the parents’ combined total income, and that percentage is used to decide child support payments. As a result, $666 per month, or 66.6% of the total amount due in child support, is paid by the non-custodial parent as part of their child support plan.
Q: How Do They Calculate Child Support in California?
A: California Family Code § 4055 outlines the specific calculations used to determine child support, which factor in the combined income of both parents, the amount of time the higher-earning parent spends with the child, the amount of income needed to support the child before the divorce, and of course the final support amount. Each case is different, and each calculation will have different results to serve each situation in the best possible way.
Q: Is Child Support High in California?
A: Because each calculation of child support payments is unique to every child and every situation, the amount of money varies from case to case. For some families, child support payments may reach thousands of dollars per month, but for others, a couple of hundred dollars may be the maximum amount payable in child support per month based on the needs of both parents.
Q: What Is the Average Child Support Payment?
A: The average amount of money paid in child support by non-custodial parents is about $430 a month for one child. The amount paid in child support per child may change based on the number of children being supported, the income of both parents, and the amount needed to raise the children in this particular dynamic.
When To Contact an Attorney
Navigating the child support system in California can be difficult, especially as a non-custodial parent. Between complex equations and trying to manage the full spectrum of factors that go into your payments, having an expert by your side for these deliberations can be a major help throughout the legal process. For expert help and experience with child support calculations, look no further than the legal aid provided by Paula D. Kleinman,