What Is Child Support?
First, a few misconceptions regarding child support should be clarified. Child support is not intended to “punish” the parent who pays child support, nor is it intended to be spent as “bonus income” for the receiving parent. Child support is to be used for the needs of the child. This includes the child’s food, shelter, clothing, education, extracurricular expenses, entertainment, health care, etc.
How Is Child Support Determined in California?
In California, the determination of a child support amount is based upon a mathematical formula that is set forth in California Family Code Section 4055. The formula that is used to determine the amount of child support is complicated, so the court and family law attorneys use child support software programs to compute guideline child support. The calculated amount will fluctuate based on a variety of factors.
Some primarily factors include:
- The respective income of the parties
- The number of children involved
- The percentage of time each party spends with the children
To receive a child support payment estimate, you can use the Guideline Calculator located on the California Department of Child Support Services’ website. If you use the Guideline Calculator, be sure to discuss the computed estimate with your lawyer to receive a more complete and accurate indication as to what your payments should be.
Can You Make Modifications to Child Support?
If you feel that your child support payments should be modified, you will need to file and serve either a Request for Order form (FL-300) if you are initiating the request, or a Responsive Declaration to Request for Order form (FL-320) if you are responding to the other party’s Request for Order. You will also need to file and serve an Income and Expense Declaration form (FL-150) and other necessary financial documents identified on that form. You will receive a hearing date upon the filing of the Request for Order.
Because litigation on the issue of child support can become extremely complex, it is best to first consult with an experienced family law attorney before filing any legal documents.