What you should know about child support in California
Child support in California is ordered under very specific state rules. Both parents are expected to be responsible for their child’s financial support. However, the way child support is established depends on the parent’s income after their other responsibilities are met, their child’s financial needs and the amount of time each parent has custody of their child.
Net-disposable income and the parents’ financial responsibilities
In California, child support is set using a formula based on the parents’ net disposable income and any additional income generated from investment property, stocks, interests, pensions and other financial benefits. Net disposable income is the amount of income available for child support after other financial responsibilities are considered, including:
- Required retirement contributions
- Child support paid to a parent’s other children
- Alimony paid to an ex-spouse
- Additional costs of raising other children
Time-share of parental responsibility
Additionally, the child support formula will also calculate how much time each parent spends with the child. The parent who spends less time with the child will usually have to pay a higher percentage.
The child’s financial needs
Child support is established to cover a child’s financial needs and to cover any back payments due as well as the interest for back payments. A child’s financial needs can include:
- Expenses related to food, clothing and housing
- Health insurance and costs of medical treatment
- Education and other essential needs
- Sports, school trips, clubs and other extracurricular activities
Child support payments usually continue until the child turns 18 or earlier if the child becomes independent, through marriage or joining the military, for example. If the child has not graduated high school, it can continue until 19. Additionally, it can also be paid to an adult child who cannot support themselves due to a disability.