Jenkins P.C.

How is child support determined in California?

If you recently filed for divorce, you might be concerned about child support. It might be strange to think about passing a check to your co-parent rather than paying out of pocket for everyday expenses.

How much should you expect to pay in child support? How is it calculated in California?

Child support calculator

In California, the courts use a computer program called DissoMaster to calculate child support based on many factors. Those include:

  • Number of children.
  • Each parent’s monthly/yearly income.
  • Custody and visitation arrangement.
  • Health insurance and medical costs.
  • Other related taxes and fees.

This calculator is a tool that guides the courts. Your unique situation will alter this total fairly and appropriately. If your situation includes non-biological children, in-utero surrogacy or children with special needs, your needs might be more legally complex.

How is child support used?

The laws about fair use of child support payments are very strict. In California, child support is used to help pay for a child’s basic needs. These include the following:

  • Clothing
  • Health care and medical costs
  • Education
  • After-school activities

The custodial parent must not use the money to cover luxury or unrelated personal expenses. For example, they should not use the money to settle personal debts, go on a vacation or buy gifts for their friends.

Finally, your initial arrangement could change. If education or property costs significantly increase, they might petition you for an increased amount in child support. However, this might be a separate court proceeding. If you need to change your child support arrangement, you may want to explore your legal options.

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