When people in California get a divorce, courts may take several factors into account when calculating support. Signing and performance bonuses, investment dividends and various employment perks might all be considered. Courts might also consider whether a person is capable of earning more based on education, training and past salary. If the family lived a lifestyle that was not supported by the reported income, the court may look for the source and how children can continue to have a similar lifestyle following the divorce.

A court will generally look at several years of income, and it is best to not try to manipulate these figures. However, people may want to consider timing when filing for divorce and may want to do so more quickly if they anticipate a particularly lucrative year ahead. There may be other steps they can take to offset support payments as well. For example, some people may want to give the other person more assets and reduce the amount of support owed. However, it is important to remember that while support payments may be modified in some circumstances, decisions on property division cannot.

A modification provision means the couple can return to court and have the support amount changed if there is a change of circumstances. Some may decide against this provision since it could require time, money and further financial disclosure.

People who need to request a child custody modification should be aware that even if the modification is granted, the person will continue to owe for any past payments missed. The office of child support enforcement may be able to garnish the other parent’s wages or take other actions to help a parent collect payments if necessary. However, a parent who receives support should not deny the other parent their visitation rights even if the child support is not paid.