How Is Child Support Calculated In California?

How Is Child Support Calculated In California?

by Mar 22, 2017Child Support

For those going through a divorce in California where children are involved, one of the very first questions that usually comes up is, “how is child support calculated in California?” Figuring out how much it is going to cost to raise the children and how much one parent is going to have to pay the other is a major part of divorce.

California Child Support Formula

The state of california has actually established a statewide formula to determine the fair amount of child support in a given situation. This formula is often referred to as the “child support calculator” and uses an algebraic formula to arrive at the amount of child support to be paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the child or children.

The actual formula is: CS = K [HN –(H%)(TN)]

The variables shown above are defined as follows:

  • CS = Child support amount
  • K = Amount of income to be allocated for child support
  • HN = High earner’s net monthly disposable income
  • H% = The approximate percentage of time the high earner has physical time with the child or children
  • TN = Total net monthly disposable income of both parents

While reducing an issue as critical as child support and a child’s well being to a formula may seem cold and detached, it’s meant to impartially find a fair and equitable outcome for both the parents and their children.

What’s actually more important in answering the question of how child support is calculated in California are the statewide guidelines that heavily factor into any decision about child support. The guidelines include:

  • A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life.
  • Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children.
  • Each parent’s actual income and level of responsibility for the children are taken into account.
  • Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability.
  • The interests of the children are the top concern.
  • The children should share in the standard of living of both parent — so, child support may actually benefit the lifestyle of the custodial parent.
  • Finally, the amount of child support reflects California’s high standard of living and high cost of raising children, when compared to other states.

When children are involved in the divorce process the situation can be overwhelming for parents because not only does the child or children need reassurance and emotional support, but they also need stability.

Additional Child Support Considerations

In addition to the formula and guidelines shown above, there are certain aspects of the divorce and child support process that each spouse should be aware of.

For example, it is presumed that the custodial parent having primary custody for the children will be contributing a significant portion of his or her available resources towards child support.

Unless proven otherwise, the formula amount is the correct amount of child support and only under special circumstances can child support fall below the amount calculated by the child support calculator.

In situations where the calculated amount is unjust or inappropriate, however, the presumption can be rebutted by presenting evidence that permits the court to revise the formula support amount upward or downward.

In addition, while the amount of child support is “presumptively correct”, it can be subject to mandatory increase for certain additional child care costs, including health care, and discretionary increase for other child care related expenses, including special education and travel for visitation.

Navigating The Process

Navigating the process of divorce and determining how child support will be calculated is often more challenging that either spouse expects. Also, the amount determined is not guaranteed forever, and it’s important for both parties to have adequate legal representation to ensure they are fairly represented at every stage.

As unpleasant and seemingly detached as using a standardized formula may seem, it’s important to be aware of and understand how it will apply to each party in the divorce.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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