In California, child support is calculated through a mandatory formula known as “guideline” child support. The judge will need to decide each parent’s income or earning capacity, other sources of income, income deductions, the parenting time share, add-on expenses such as day care, medical costs, extracurricular expenses, visitation travel expenses and private school tuition. The judge may also allocate the child support between a monthly base amount and regular overtime and bonus payments.
Child support amounts can vary widely based on the court’s calculation of income, deductions, add-ons, hardships and other aspects of the parties’ respective incomes. Any income that is subject to taxation is presumed to be included in the determination of income available for support. This often includes a range of employee benefits, such as bonuses, stock options and other equity compensation, car allowances and similar items. It is important to evaluate any items that can be included as add-ons, including day care or after-school programs, school tuition, out-of-pocket health care expenses and travel expenses for visitation. It is also necessary to consider hardships such as new children from another relationship or unusual health expenses.
Attorneys are often involved in child support enforcement and modification proceedings. When a parent fails to pay the full amount of child support, the other parent will need to seek a contempt hearing or other means of enforcing the child support order. If either parent has a change in income or other change in the guideline formula inputs, child support should be recalculated, since the child support amount requires a new court order. Our attorneys are highly experienced in the full range of child support proceedings, including those initiated by the Department of Child Support Services.
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