Under the Family Code both parents of a minor child have an equal responsibility to support their child in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances. In addition to child support both parties are required to equally share unreimbursed medical costs, and child care costs related to employment or training and education needed to obtain employment.
Initial Child Support Order
California has a statewide uniform guideline formula for determining how much support should be paid. If parents cannot agree on child support, the judge must decide the child support amount based on the guideline calculation. The guideline amount is presumed to be correct. In very limited circumstances, the judge can order something other than the guideline amount.
The guideline calculation depends on:
- How much money the parents earn or can earn,
- The amount of other income each parent receives,
- How many children these parents have together,
- How much time each parent spends with their children,
- The actual tax filing status of each parent,
- Support of children from other relationships,
- Health insurance expenses,
- Mandatory union dues,
- Mandatory retirement contributions,
- The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health care costs, and
- Other factors.
Child support might also include the cost of special needs, such as:
- Traveling for visitation from one parent to another,
- Educational expenses, and
- Other special needs.
Child support usually terminates upon the occurrence of one of the following events:
- A child turns 18 years of age and is not a full-time high school student or;
- Child turns 19 years of age (child support ends at 19 or high school graduation);
- Child gets married or joins the military;
- Court ends the support order; or
- The child dies before the age of 18.
Parents may agree to support a child longer than the minimum time required. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child if that child cannot support him or herself.
It is important to speak to a family law attorney about your child’s right to support because there are laws relating to when the order may become effective. Donna and Jennifer have extensive experience handling initial child support orders.
Modification of Child Support
Child support may be modified when there is a change in circumstances. For example, if you change the amount of time you spend with your child, lose your job or the other parent receives an increase in income, you can ask for a change in your support.
Before you decide to ask for a change in child support, you should contact Denham & Britt, LLP to make sure it is worth it for you to go back to court. Understand, the court still uses the California uniform guideline when modifying support. The amount the judge orders may be different based on information from the other parent or other factors that affect child support.