Major Factors Used in Calculating Child Support in California
California uses a child support guideline formula to determine the appropriate amounts owed to the custodial parent. This guideline depends heavily on net income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child or children.
Orange County, CA (Law Firm Newswire) June 17, 2010 - The California Family Court looks at two main factors when calculating child support: each parent’s net income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child or children. Additional factors that may have an effect on the overall amount of child support awarded to the custodial parent include child care expenses, medical insurance premiums, home mortgage payments, tax filing status, and any other expenses that may impact the family’s financial situation.
When a judge calculates child support amounts, he or she will look very closely at the
amount of time each parent spends with the child or children. This amount of time is then entered into a complex formula that is used to calculate support payments, often referred to as the “J Factor.” This element is named so because the California Child Support Guideline operates using a mathematical formula in which "J" refers to the amount of time the non-custodial parent spends with the child or children.
The formula used in calculating child support is the same in every case and in every court in California. Because the formula used to calculate the child support amounts is complicated, the court most commonly utilizes a computer program called a Dissomaster™ to calculate the monthly child support amounts. The information entered into the program will be provided by the custodial and non-custodial parent. However, an experienced family law attorney will negotiate certain items with the other party to ensure that the proper child support is received each month.
“Family law attorneys will often negotiate what gets calculated into the non-custodial parent’s net income. They may ask the court to award support based on bonuses, commissions, overtime work and any other supplemental income they feel is regularly occurring,” explained Gerald A. Maggio, an Orange County divorce attorney.
Basic child support does not include the cost of child care or uninsured medical expenses. These additional costs will be considered by the court and will be ordered in addition to the guideline support. These types of expenses are called mandatory add-ons, and a judge will take them into consideration before deciding on a final amount. Usually, a court will order that each parent is responsible for paying half of the child care expenses necessary for the custodial parent to be employed full time. In addition, the court will order that each parent be responsible for one half of the child or children's medical and dental expenses which are not covered by insurance.
Although calculating child support can be a complex process, it’s important that a judge consider all of the factors when awarding child support amounts. “Parents have an important responsibility to provide for their children. Paying the appropriate amount of child support fulfills that obligation. Not getting the appropriate amount of child support will place financial strain on the custodial parent, and this, in turn, will put the child or children at great risk,” noted Maggio.
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