How Child Support is Calculated in California

Silhouette of a man, child, and womanWe all know how expensive it can be to raise a child in California. Food and clothing are but a small fraction of what it actually costs to support a child. I know that the extracurricular activities that my children are involved in each week fill a calendar, and their cost can really put a strain on the household budget. Paying for it all can be difficult even when both parents are working and contributing to the household expenses.

Who Pays the Bills When Mom and Dad Split Up?

Divorce, separation, or separate petition for support can bring child support issues into the courts in Santa Ana and other communities in the state. When parents are no longer living together, they remain legally responsible for raising their children and paying for their support. Just as when parents are living together, the costs associated with raising a child cover much more than just clothes, shelter, and food. Other costs may include:

• Deductibles and co-pays not covered by health insurance
• Daycare or child care costs
• Tutoring and other education-related expenses
• Transportation expenses
• Entertainment costs

Using the Child Support Calculator

Dollar Bill Stacks of MoneyIf my spouse and I decide to live apart, California makes it easy for us to figure out how much support each of us would be required to pay under state law. This is because the state bases support on a formula it refers to as “guidelines.” We can use the state’s child support calculator to determine how much support each of us should pay. The calculator automatically applies the state child support formula to the information we enter into it to tell us what our support obligation should be.

The formula used by the calculator in 2015 is based on the time each parent spends with the child and the net disposable income of each parent. Sources of income include the following:

• Earnings from employment
• tips and commissions
• Social Security and pension benefits
• Workers’ compensation benefits

After sources of income, I must next enter deductions such as April taxes, union dues, and other items that I am required to have taken out of my income. The calculator provides me with my net disposable income from which child support obligations are then determined.


If you have additional questions regarding how child support is calculated in California, please contact the Law Offices of William M. Strachan here.