Child support is determined with a formula that requires consideration and the use of many factors. The most significant ones are each parent’s respective income and each parent’s respective timeshare with the children. The purpose of child support is to support a child at a level that relates to the parents' station in life.
The level of child support is established with the use of a computer program. The parties may agree to pay a level of child support that differs from the computer generated amount. However, the court will not recognize a written agreement between the parties that child support be fixed and non-modifiable. Child support is always modifiable when circumstances change.
Child Support is determined by a software program certified by the California Judicial Council (i.e. Dissomaster, X-Spouse, etc.). The formula itself considers many factors, some of which are listed here, with the primary key factors being:
- timeshare with children
Courts may depart from the computer generated number (up or down) under certain circumstances and conditions, but rarely do so. Courts may order additional child support payments referred to as “add-ons” (child care, medical expenses, etc.). Certain “add-ons” are mandatory and others are discretionary. In cases where the payor’s income varies, a court may order support calculated on the base income amount, with additional “supplemental” support paid as a percentage of the income received over the base amount, in what is referred to as an Ostler-Smith order. See the Ostler-Smith Order Infographic on page 38.
The child support calculator can be found online at The California Department of Child Support Services Website.
A parent typically pays less child support if he/she has a greater amount of custodial time with the child or children than the other party.
A parent typically pays more child support if he/she earns a greater income than the other parent.
Time Share Factor
Monetary Gifts from Family Members
Monetary gifts, whether given in cash or by paying a debt or obligation, may be considered as income when determining support, if the payment was given consistently during marriage and was not given as a loan or an advance on an inheritance.