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Courts follow detailed guidelines in setting child support

California courts take several factors into consideration when it comes to setting child support payments for parents who are separating. State guidelines include both financial and non-financial factors.

The factors that are taken into account included how much each parent earns or is capable of earning, as well as how much income from other sources, such as tips and commissions, a parent receives. Other financial factors considered in determining child support include the tax status of each parent, if a parent is supporting children from other relationships, mandatory expenses such as union dues and retirement contributions, and costs of day care and health care, including insurance and non-covered costs. Parents may be required to share costs of transferring the child from one parent to the other when it comes to visitation for the non-custodial parent.

Non-financial criteria used in determining child support include how much time each parent spends with the child as well as how many children the couple have together. If the amount of time a child spends with each parent changes, child support modifications may be made.

A California court will determine child support payments, but parents may be able to come up with an estimate using the California Guideline Child Support Calculator User Guide. Because the information required is substantial and can be complicated, parents may wish to consult with their respective family law attorneys who can help them in properly presenting the required information to the court. Since the judge can only deviate from this guideline formula in certain conditions, it is important for each parent to present their financial information in an accurate manner.

Source: Judicial Council of California, "Child Support", accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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