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How Is Child Support Calculated in California?


When in the middle of a divorce, it can be easy to focus just on the here and now while losing sight of long-run concerns, like child support. If you live in California and are dissolving your marriage, odds are high that the court expects the noncustodial parent to pay some amount each month to the custodial one. But how much are you going to be pay or receive? This is a hugely important question without an immediately clear answer.

To try to make things simpler, California provides a child support calculation formula that is supposed to be standardized for most divorces. Only, there is a problem: it is pretty complicated. (Click here to visit California’s official government site to see what we mean by complicated.) The form asks you to fill out federal tax exemptions, itemized deductions, retirement funds, etc. For the average person, it is quite a lot to sort through.

Instead, consider this simplified telling of what California’s child support calculator requires:

  • Number of children pending the child support action
  • Average monthly income of both parents
  • Monthly amount of alimony or child support payments paid by either parent
  • Monthly health insurance premiums paid by both parents

You will also need to know the percentage of time noncustodial parent has physical custody or responsibility. For example, if you are permitted to see your children only 12 hours a week, you would divide 12 by 168 (total number of hours in a week) to find your percentage of responsibility, typically rounding up to the nearest percent. In this case, it would be 8%.

Once you have all of this information gathered, you should bring it to a trusted family law attorney to calculate a fair or necessary amount of child support. Keep in mind that any value they calculate is a recommended amount but may not necessarily be approved by the court. In the end, all decisions involving child support have to get a court’s authorization to ensure no one is being exploited or the children are not going unsupported.

Gill Law Group, PC and our divorce lawyers in Orange County can help you determine your child support needs, either as someone paying or receiving monthly amounts. Contact us today and we can start talking about your options in a complimentary consultation.