The law has a calculation that it uses to determine a fair amount of support that should be paid so both parents can afford to take care of their children. It is called Guideline Support. The amount of support resulting from this calculation is considered to be a fair amount to make sure that both parents are able to take care of the kids when they’re in their care.
How much will child support be? Well, the main factors that are considered are 1) the number of children, 2) how much time the children spend with each parent, and 3) the net earnings of both parents. The California Department of Child Support Services (“DCSS”) has an online guideline support calculator you can use here: DCSS Child Support Guideline Calculator. But we’ll describe the factors in more detail below.
Number of Children
This is pretty straightforward – child support should cover all of your minor children. Under State law, child support continues until the child turns 18, unless the child is still a full-time high school student, in which case support continues until they graduate high school or turn 19, whichever occurs first. (If you have multiple children, guideline child support decreases when one child is no longer supported. However, it isn’t just split in half or thirds, or fourths – it will need to be based on a new guideline calculation.)
The guideline calculation uses how much time each parent has with the children. So, the more time that you spend with one of your kids, the less that you will have to pay……since the parent who doesn’t have the kids during that time should be paying you for the expenses related to your children…..and vice versa. This is usually based on a percentage you can calculate based on your custody agreement. Of course, many families will have to make adjustments from time-to-time for work or travel. But it’s usually based to base this on your average, regular custody schedule.
If you want to look at a guide of timeshare percentages based on common custody schedules, it can be found at the bottom of this article. If you complete your calculations using the DCSS calculator it will give you the opportunity to enter advanced information to calculate support.
This is where the guideline calculation gets complicated. Support isn’t based on your gross, pre-tax wages or your take-home pay; it’s based on your net earnings, which takes into account your earnings and tax deductions, as well as income from any other sources (like rental income, investment income, etc.). You’ll need to have information about these earnings and deductions in order to complete the calculation. Most of this information can be found on your most recent tax returns and paystubs.
If you have more questions about guideline support calculations, you can review DCSS’s User Manual for their support calculator, which provides more information.
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