Under California law, both parents are required to provide support for their children, until one of the following occurs: the child turns 19, turns 18 and is no longer a full-time high school student, marries, dies, or becomes legally emancipated. For many couples who are getting divorced or separated, it is hard to know exactly how much child support is warranted, and this is typically calculated with complex mathematical formulas. The courts take into consideration a wide variety of factors when determining the proper child support amount, so if you are facing an upcoming child support negotiation, it's a good idea to keep these things in mind.
Here are a few elements that are considered when making the child support calculation:
- Parent's incomes
One of the biggest factors is the individual incomes of the parents. The gross income is weighed from both the mother and the father.
- Number of children
As the number of children goes up, so does the expense for caring for them. The court will look at the number of shared children, and expand the support amount to accommodate that number.
- Primary residence
In the child custody negotiation, often one parent is named as primary caregiver, and this is taken into consideration when calculating support. Where each child lives for the majority of the time often dictates the parent who receives the bulk of the support.
- Non-primary visitation time
For the non-primary caregiver, their commitment to utilizing their visitation rights is weighed. A judge will examine how much time this other parent spends with their children.
- Medical needs
The healthcare needs of one or more children is always a factor in determining child support, especially if a child has a genetic condition, chronic illness, or other disability.
- Visitation travel expenses
If there is a considerable time or distance between the parents and children, visitation will incur expenses, and these can be weighed as well, to calculate a reasonable child support amount.
- Miscellaneous income
Many people draw income from a variety of sources these days, and a judge will ask to see any and all of it. This may include governmental assistance, cash payments, stocks/bonds, trust funds, seasonal work, self-employment income, and others.
These are a few of the most important factors in determining child support, but your case may include other factors as well. If you need help with your family finances, come to T&L Family Law- we're proud to be dedicated child support attorneys in Santa Monica.