Child Support

Determination Of Child Support In California

In this article, you will learn…

  • How Dissomaster is used to calculate child support,
  • What an add-on might be in a child support order, and
  • How long a child will receive child support in California.

How Is Child Support Calculated In California And Who Has To Pay?

There is a whole family code that spells out the mathematical calculations that are utilized in determining child support. In the state of California, there’s a program called Dissomaster that will do the calculation for you, and this program is the standard that courts and child support services use in calculating support.

The child support services website has a free calculator that you can utilize and attorneys also have software that does the same Dissomaster calculation. Information you would input in the Dissomaster to help determine child support can be…

  • Gross income,
  • Taxable income,
  • Nontaxable income,
  • Any standardized deductions,
  • The number of children, and
  • The time-shared percentage.

Time-shared percentage is probably the largest point of contention when people are calculating support. It is the main reason why you hear people speak about custody and visitation in terms of percentages. When we talk about things like 50/50 custody, we are referring to the time-shared percentage that can be used in calculating child support.

Most courts and attorneys try to avoid using percentages when they’re talking about custody and visitation because they don’t want to conflict the monetary effects of custody with what’s in the best interest of the child.

Once you have your custody and visitation orders, you can determine the percentage each parent has the child and support will be ordered to the one who has more than 50% of the time-share. In some cases, the person who has primary custody is also the higher wage earner. In this case, there’s a chance that no support would be ordered at all.

If the person who doesn’t have primary custody is the higher wage earner, there is most likely going to be a larger support order awarded to the party who has primary custody. The courts can also do add-ons for the children so that they can add on…

  • Childcare costs,
  • Medical insurance premiums, or
  • Out-of-pocket expenses.

A lot of time these expenses will be set at 50/50, depending on the income of the parties. If the primary parent is the lower wage earner and they are paying for childcare, the child support order can say that the non-custodial parent will pay a certain amount toward the child support and then an additional add-on of 50% of childcare costs.

There are many factors that go into determining child support and add-ons but, in general, they are trying to get to an equal balance of spending time raising the child and spending money to compensate for the cost of raising the child. The closer you get to equal time-share of custody, the lower the amount of child support is going to be.

How Long Will I Receive Child Support In California?

In general, child support will terminate at one of three points:

  • When the child turns 18,
  • When the child graduates from high school if they graduate after turning 18, or
  • When the child turns 19 if they are still in high school.

Even if the child hasn’t graduated from high school when they turn 19, 19 is the termination date for child support.

If a child under the age of maturity gets married, that can also terminate child support.

If I Can No Longer Afford Child Support Payments Can I Petition For A Reduction In Child Support?

If you can no longer afford child support payments, you can petition for a reduction in child support. You should do it immediately, as soon as you know your circumstances have changed.

Whether you are doing it through the courts or through the Department of Child Support Services, you want to petition for a modification of child support as soon as possible. This is because if you wait six months, you won’t be able to retroactively reduce those six months of payments. If you became delinquent as a result of your change in circumstances, you will be liable for the total amount of that six months. There is no jurisdiction of the court to modify support back to a date before when that modification is filed with the court.

If you have a case that has the Department of Child Support Services, or DCSS, involved, a lot of times you can just go directly to them. They have staff attorneys who can prepare motions to modify support. These staff attorneys don’t represent either party; they represent the interests of the county. They can file a motion to modify support if a person’s income has changed.

There are times when agreements take place or additional changes to your income happen after you have filed your motion. When this happens, the case can get continued out so that you might not go to court on the modification for six months after you filed your motion. At this point, the court can modify support back to the date that you filed your request with the court.

You aren’t losing anything in that time by not having the modification because they can retroactively modify it back to the date it is filed. This is why you should always reach out to the Department of Child Support Services if there’s been a change to your income as soon as you know it will impact your ability to pay your child support.

For more information on Determination Of Child Support In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (408) 909-4586 today.

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