Child support is one among many issues that may arise during a divorce, separation, or separate parentage or custody proceeding. Child support is calculated using a complex guideline formula enacted by the State of California. While there are various factors associated with the child support formula, the primary factors can be distilled to the following:
- Amount of parenting time each parent has
- Income of each parent
Contact us online or call (916) 864-3944 to schedule a consultation and learn about your legal rights.
Amount of Parenting Time Each Parent Has
Child support and child custody are interrelated in that the amount of custodial time a parent has directly affects the amount of child support the payor may pay. In some cases, this may cause parents to take highly unreasonable positions with child custody to either increase or decrease the amount of child support. As a child support attorney working with clients in the greater Sacramento region, Hundal Family Law is keenly aware of this tactic.
Parenting time is determined by calculating the number of hours each parent has with the child. Overnight hours are allocated to the parent who has custody of the child overnight. Similarly, day time school hours are allocated to the parent who is responsible for the child during that time.
Income of Each Parent
The second factor in calculating child support in the greater Sacramento region is income.
For business owners, income is generally calculated by averaging profit and loss statements and tax returns for a representative period (typically the previous 2-5 years depending on the circumstances). For wage earners, child support income is calculated by averaging income for the previous 12 months. Paystubs and W-2 statements are the primary reference point.
Like all issue in family law, however, there are exceptions. For example, a 12 month average may not be appropriate for a parent who recently changed jobs. Similarly, a historical average may not be appropriate if a business is no longer expected to produce the same amount of revenue and net income (the Covid-19 pandemic is an example).
Income also includes much more than earnings. Rental income, dividend income, stock options, and equity compensation are all examples of other sources of income that may be included in calculating guideline child support. These other forms of income often create highly contentious support proceedings, and are not always appropriate to include as income. Similarly, certain expenses that are properly deductible for tax purposes may be added back as income for child support purposes. Meal and entertainment deductions are common add-backs.
Deviation from Guideline Child Support in greater Sacramento, Roseville, and Fairfield
Once a guideline calculation is made, California law presumes that the calculated amount is correct. This presumption is rebuttable, but only under very specific circumstances outlined in the California Family Code. This is known as a deviation. The circumstances upon a deviation may be obatined are:
- Special needs of a child (Marriage of Cryer)
- Exceptionally high earner
- Deferred home award to payee
- A part is not contributing to the needs of the children at a level commensurate with their time share
- Unjustness o the guideline formula in specific circumstances
- Payment of significant amount of community consumer debt incurred for basic living needs (County of Lake v. Antoni)
- Mortgage free housing (Marriage of Schlafly)
Depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, a deviation from guideline child support is possible. Deviations are difficult to obtain, but not impossible. Whether a deviation in child support is achievable is determined on a case by case basis, and based on the judge assigned to your case. Different judges have different philosophies on which circumstances warrant a deviation, and our experience as child support attorney's with judges in Sacramento, Roseville, Woodland, and Fairfield will instruct whether a deviation is a viable option in each case.
When Does Child Support End?
Child support is payable until either:
- A child completes high school, but not after a child attains the age of 19
- Child support does not automatically end on the death of the payor parent, even if the primary parent had child custody (Marriage of McCann)
- Child support may be payable to adult children who are unable to support themselves.
Child support is incredibly complex and involves much more than inputting numbers into Dissomaster or X-Spouse (the computer program used by judges when calculating support). During your consultation, we will provide a rough calculation of the amount of child support you can expect to pay or receive using the same program a judge will, and strategize whether the amount may be reduced.
Contact us online or call (916) 864-3944 to speak with an experienced child support attorney.