Now that you’re getting a divorce, the No. 1 thing on your mind if you have children will probably be how you are going to provide for them. 

This is a common worry among parents who are about to get a divorce and don’t understand how child support works in California. 

Here are the basics:

The Purpose of Child Support in California

In any state, the purpose of child support is to make sure that all children are taken care of financially after the divorce and that support stays consistent. 

Normally, the partner who does not have full custody of the child or children pays the other partner who does have full custody. 

In divorce mediation, child support is one of the things discussed, along with:

  • Parenting time—when each parent gets to see the child or children.
  • Spousal support (alimony)—if one spouse needs to make payments to the other to support them financially due to the divorce.
  • Division of assets—which spouse gets what things.

How Child Support Is Calculated in California 

The amount of child support in every legal case is calculated using a standard formula in the state of California. The formula is based on the after-tax income of the parents and other factors, such as:

  • The income of each parent.
  • Support of children from outside relationships.
  • How much time each parent spends with the child.
  • Health insurance expenses.
  • The cost of daycare.

In some cases, the judge can ask for other monetary amounts to be given and added to the calculation, such as traveling visitation costs, the child’s educational needs and extra-curricular activities the child participates in. 

If you want to try and estimate the amount of child support that will be ordered in your case, you can go to the online child support calculator. But remember, this is an estimate and the amount actually settled could be different.

Plus, it’s important to consider what’s not factored into the child support calculation. These expenses are more everyday things, such as prom dresses, tuxes, summer camp, dance class and a multitude of other things. These expenses and how they’re covered have to be figured out between you and your ex-spouse, so when we say an estimate, we mean an estimate. 

Not everything is cut and dry when it comes to California child support. 

How Long Is Child Support Paid

Court-ordered child support usually ends when the child comes of age, so when they turn 18 and finish full-time high school or turn 19, whichever occurs first. It also can end when the child marries, registers a domestic partnership, passes away or is emancipated before the age of 18. 

But what about college? Notice that court-ordered child support is suspended at 18, so after that, you and your spouse will have to come to an agreement on payments of support after that time. 

This is a situation you might want to plan for ahead of time so there are no surprises. The court can, however, mandate a continuity of support for a disabled adult child who is not self-supporting. 

Instances That Could Affect Child Support

Life is always changing, so it makes sense that somewhere in the future the situation with your children will change. Life changes that can affect child support include a spouse getting remarried or less or more parenting time being given to a spouse. 

When this happens, the spouse receiving child support just needs to simply go back to court and ask for an increase in support or the spouse receiving more parenting time needs to file for a reduction. It’s not for sure you will get it, but you want to file requests quickly so the process of reviewing your case can start. 

We’re Here to Help

Understanding child support in California can be hard, even after reading this post about the basics. If you still have concerns about how child support works or just need help with your overall divorce, reach out on our contact page. Our Orange County divorce attorneys are here to help you navigate the waters of divorce.