The father and mother, or same sex parents, of a minor child have an equal responsibility to support their child in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances [CA Family Code Section 3900]. This duty continues as to an unmarried minor child until he or she completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first [CA Family Code Section 3901].
California has established uniform guidelines support standards which Courts are obligated to follow, except in limited circumstance including good cause and party agreement. The amount of base child support depends on two main factors: the amount of time each parent spends with the children (timeshare) and each parent’s income. There are limited offsets to income that are considered in this calculation. Child support cannot be used as a bargaining chip to gain advantage in the matter. It is a non-elective, non-waivable obligation. The benefit belongs to the child, not the custodial parent.
Common Child Support Issues
- Add-on child support: In addition to base child support, there are mandatory and discretionary add-ons. Mandatory add-ons include child care costs so a parent can work, uninsured medical expenses, and education expenses. Parents are obligated to share these costs equally. Discretionary add-ons include the child’s activities like sports or other extra curricular activities.
- Modification: Child support that is under guideline can always be modified at any time. Guideline support can also be modified if there is a change in circumstances, like a change in timeshare or the income of either parent. Regardless of the reason, it is important to file for a modification as soon as you know it’s appropriate to reserve your right to reimbursment of overpaid support. Child support cannot be modified prior to the date of the request for order.
- Arrears: This is past-due child support. Arrears must be paid and are subject to interest at the legal rate, currently 10%.
- Click here to estimate your monthly child support payments.
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