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Child Support FAQs for California Residents

When parents decide to bring a child into the world, it tends to be a time of joy, excitement, and hope for the future. While for some couples this milestone is just one of many on a lifelong path of happiness, others may or may not understand that their relationship is headed for divorce. When children become involved in divorce cases, it can be an emotional and traumatizing experience for the whole family.

Estimates by the data aggregation site World Population Review indicate that as much as 9% of California’s population are divorced at least once. For those divorced couples with children, there is sometimes an uneven balance of financial capabilities, especially for the parent who has the majority of custody over the child (known as the custodial parent).

When parents need financial support from an ex-spouse, they need the assistance of legal counsel to ensure their rights are protected. Our experienced local divorce attorneys work to help parents determine how much child support is needed and how long this support will last. While scheduling a consultation with one of our legal professionals is always the preferred course of action, there are some general points of knowledge related to child support of which all California residents should be made aware. The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about child support in California.

How is Child Support Calculated in California?

Like many other states, California uses the net disposable income of each spouse as a major determining factor when calculating the need for child support. To get this figure, courts will take each parent’s gross annual income minus particular deductions, then divide this sum by 12 to get a monthly amount.

Gross income includes income from a variety of sources, including:

  • All salary/wage, bonuses, commissions, real estate income, investment dividends, interest, retirement accounts, disability/worker’s compensation benefits, and current spousal support.
  • Income derived from business ownership.
  • Employment or self-employment benefits, although these are not always a necessary consideration in the eyes of the court.
What if a Parent Does Not Have Income?

Divorce courts in California do not take kindly to parents who intentionally leave a job or reduce their hours in an attempt to avoid paying child support. In these cases, a court judge can “impute” income to a parent, meaning the court will consider the parent’s earning potential given their circumstances as opposed to the real (typically lower) income they are currently receiving. In these instances, the court will need to prove that higher-paying jobs exist that the parent is qualified for and could be reasonably expected to apply for and be hired.

When Do Child Support Orders End in California?

There are a few different instances in which a child support order will end in California. If the child is emancipated, turns 19, or graduates 12th grade, the child support order will end. However, when the child is incapacitated, parents may be required to keep paying beyond that point.

When to Contact an Attorney

The process of applying for child support and calculating potential support amounts can be complex. For years, the attorneys at SAC Attorneys have been helping parents in San Jose navigate this process. Contact SAC Attorneys today for help and insight you can trust.

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