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How child support is determined in California

Raising children in California has its challenges, one of those challenges can be that there are many costs associated with raising them. People need to pay for basics such as food, clothing and a home, which can be expensive by themselves. However, as parents know there are many other costs as well such as school costs, extracurricular activities, medical expenses, recreation expenses, entertainment and many other costs.

These costs are there whether the couple is together or not, but when the couple is divorced or separated how the parents pay for these costs changes. Generally, there is a child support order, which orders one parent to pay the other money each month to ensure the parties are equally contributing to the expenses and not just by the parent who has the children most of the time. There are different aspects of a child support order as well. There is basic support for basic needs, but the orders also handle medical costs, child care costs and extracurricular activities.

The amount that is paid is determined by a child support formula. This formula starts with determining each parent’s net income, which is their gross pay minus taxes, union dues, health insurance premiums and other mandatory deductions from their pay checks. Gross income can include more than just a salary or normal hourly wages though. Courts will also look at income from bonuses, commissions, dividends, interest from investments, rental income, overtime and other forms of income.

Once income and the expenses for health insurance and child care are determined the formula also takes into account the amount of time each parent has the children and will deduct from the monthly payment the more time a parent has with the children. Essentially the more time with a parent, the less that parent will pay in child support.

Child support determinations may seem somewhat straightforward as there is a formula that is used to determine the monthly obligation. However, there are many different aspects of the order and simply determining a parent’s net income can be difficult. Experienced attorneys understand the complications that arise and may be a useful resource.

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