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Calculating Child Support Using California’s Guidelines

Posted on in Child Support

CA family lawyerParents are required to provide financial support for their children, whether they are married, unmarried, separated, or divorced. When parents do not live together, one parent will typically be required to pay child support to the other parent to ensure that children’s needs are met. The amount of child support is determined following the guidelines defined in California law, and it is based on the amount of income earned by both parents, as well as the amount of time children spend with each parent.

California’s Child Support Formula

Prior to calculating child support, each parent’s disposable monthly income should first be determined. Disposable income is calculated by taking a parent’s gross income and subtracting allowable deductions, which include state and federal income tax, mandatory union dues and retirement benefits, health insurance premiums, previously-ordered child support payments, and hardship deductions, if applicable.

California law uses the following formula to calculate child support: CS = K (HN - (H%)(TN)). The terms used in the formula are defined as follows:

  • HN - The monthly disposable income of the higher-earning parent.

  • TN - The total monthly disposable income of both parents.

  • H% - The percentage of time the children live with the higher-earning parent.

  • K - The multiplier used to determine the amount of income to be allocated for child support. When H% is 50% or less, K is determined by adding H% to one and multiplying the result by a certain fraction. When H% is more than 50%, K is determined by subtracting H% from two and multiplying the result by a certain fraction. The fraction is determined based on the parents’ total monthly disposable income, as follows:

    • $0-800 per month - the fraction is .2 + TN/16,000

    • $801-6,666 - the fraction is .25

    • $6,667-10,000 - the fraction is .1 + 1,000/TN

    • More than $10,000 - the fraction is .12 + 800/TN

  • CS is the amount of child support for one child. For additional children, CS is multiplied by a certain amount, as follows:

    • Two children - 1.6

    • Three children - 2

    • Four children - 2.3

    • Five children - 2.5

    • Six children - 2.625

    • Seven children - 2.75

    • Eight children - 2.813

    • Nine children - 2.844

    • 10 children - 2.86

As an example, consider a situation in which a couple has two children, and one parent earns $4,000 of disposable income per month and the other earns $2,500 per month, with the higher-earning parent having the children 30% of the time. To calculate child support, K should be calculated first. In this case, K equals one plus 30%, or 1.3, multiplied by .25, for a result of .325. The formula for child support will then be CS = .325 * (4,000 - .3 * 6,500), or $666.25. Since there are two children, this amount is multiplied by 1.6, resulting in $1,066, which is the amount that the higher-earning parent would pay to the other parent.

Contact a Los Gatos, CA Family Lawyer

The complex nature of California’s child support guidelines means that it is essential to have an attorney on your side who can make sure all relevant factors are considered. At the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca, we will work with you to ensure that child support is calculated correctly and advocate for a solution that protects your financial interests while meeting your children’s needs. Contact a Los Gatos family law attorney at 408-395-8822 to set up a free initial consultation.


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