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How is Child Support Calculated in California?

When going through a divorce, understanding how child support is determined becomes a critical aspect for both parents. In California, child support aims to ensure that children receive financial assistance that aligns with their parents' incomes, the family’s standard of living, and the child’s specific needs. 

Let's delve into the factors that are typically considered when calculating child support in the Golden State.


Factors Influencing Child Support

Several elements affect the amount of child support ordered. In California, these can include:

  1. Each parent's gross income
  2. The time each parent spends with the child
  3. The number of children covered by the support order
  4. Health insurance expenses
  5. Mandatory payroll deductions
  6. The child's educational and health needs

Understanding these factors can better prepare parents for the possible outcomes in child support decisions. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our team can provide insights tailored to your specific situation.


California's Child Support Guideline Formula

California's approach to child support is methodical yet designed with the best interests of the child in mind. The state's guideline formula generally plays a large role in the process, but judges can deviate from the results provided by applying formulas in order to account for additional factors. 

Here’s a deeper look:

  1. Income Consideration: Not only does this formula take into account the gross incomes of both parents, but it considers any potential tax deductions, bonuses, and overtime. It also covers income from investments and other sources. It's an exhaustive review designed to reflect each parent's actual financial capabilities.
  2. Time-share with the Child: How much time the child spends with each parent can significantly influence the support amount. The rationale is simple: the more time a parent spends with the child, the more direct expenses they likely incur and the more they will need assistance from the other parent.
  3. Special Needs and Expenses: The formula can also adjust for children with special needs or extraordinary medical or educational expenses. 

While the state provides tools to help with this calculation, nothing replaces the insight and understanding that an experienced legal team can provide. We dive into every detail, ensuring the calculation aligns with your family's reality.


Potential Changes and Adjustments

Life is ever-changing, and circumstances can shift. In California, parents can request a review of the child support amount if there are significant changes in income, living situations, or the needs of the child. Staying proactive and knowledgeable about these potential adjustments can help ensure the best outcome for your child.


Avoiding Common Pitfalls

While the child support calculation process is designed to be fair, there are potential pitfalls parents might encounter. These can include inaccurate reporting of income, misunderstanding the time-share calculation, or not considering all allowable deductions. 

In some cases, parents have been known to deliberately reduce their income to lower their child support obligations. When this is brought to the court’s attention, support obligations may be adjusted to provide what that parent should be providing. Our team knows the potential problems to keep alert for so we can help ensure the right outcome.


California Child Support Tools and Resources

California's dedication to ensuring the well-being of children post-divorce is evident in the wealth of tools and resources it provides to assist parents in understanding child support.

  1. Child Support Calculators: These online tools, available through California's Child Support Services website, offer an initial estimate of potential child support payments. By entering specifics like income, time spent with the child, and certain expenses, parents can get an approximate idea of what might be expected.
  2. Informational Workshops: Various counties in California occasionally hold workshops designed to help parents understand the nuances of child support, from how amounts are determined to rights and responsibilities.
  3. Guideline Books and Materials: For those who prefer a deep dive, the state offers comprehensive guideline books. These materials break down the factors considered in child support calculations, offering insights into the methodology used.
  4. Local Child Support Agencies (LCSAs): Spread throughout California, LCSAs provide a range of services. They can assist in establishing paternity, obtaining child support orders, and enforcing support obligations.
  5. Online Account Services: For parents already part of the child support system, online portals enable them to track payments, view case information, and communicate directly with caseworkers.

While these resources are invaluable, the complexities of individual situations often require a personalized touch. An online calculator, for instance, can't account for every nuance of a family's dynamics or financial intricacies. This is where assistance from the seasoned team from Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC can be essential. We don’t just help you navigate the system; we ensure that the system works for you, considering every unique detail of your situation. With our guidance, you'll achieve not only clarity but confidence in the decisions you make for your child's future.


Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke for Help with Child Support

Divorcing in California, especially when children are involved, brings its unique challenges. If you're facing the complexities of child support calculations, you deserve knowledgeable guidance. Reach out to Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC today at (844) 237-5791 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a dedicated lawyer in Southern California.

What Family Courts Must Understand About Children with ASD

Changes in how autism is defined means more children more eligible for diagnosis. Efforts in professional communities in the past 15 years have improved our understanding of ASD. More children are being evaluated, there are more avenues of support for children and their families. Subsequently, professionals working in family law courts have more exposure to children with ASD as well

Infidelity & Divorce in California

Why Is It Important To Maintain Civility With Your EX?

Is marriage forever? For the lucky few, yes. Unfortunately, however, the reality is a significant amount of marriages end in divorce. Many relationships end because one or both spouses have been unfaithful. When infidelity occurs, it can make an already tough situation worse, especially when there are children involved. This is because, rather than completely parting ways, parents still have to spend many years, if not a lifetime, co-parenting, interacting with one another, attending events, family gatherings, and the like.

How The California Court Weighs Infidelity During The Divorce Proceedings

In dissolution and child custody proceedings, it may be tempting to assume that such unfavorable behavior would give the “cheated on” spouse an unfair advantage, financially, with respect to parenting time, and otherwise. It may come as a surprise then to find out that, generally speaking, infidelity will not have much of an impact on your divorce and child custody matter. This is because California is a no-fault state.

In California, divorce and legal separation are generally based on “irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.” This ground is pleaded generally which means that you do not have to “prove” fault to obtain a divorce. In very rare instances, divorce and legal separation can be based on “permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.” Thus, informing the court that your spouse cheated on you will not get you very far. The court will not award you additional support or time with your children because your spouse was unfaithful.

The Specifics Matter – Make Sure You Consult With An Attorney

On the other hand, disclosing this information to the court may hurt you, at least with respect to child custody and visitation. This can occur if you start bashing your ex to the court. A court may, in some cases, feel that you are not co-parenting. This is because although health, safety, and welfare concerns regarding your children are relevant to custody proceedings; your spouse’s ability to stay faithful is not. Please note, you should always contact an attorney regarding the specifics of your case. Even though California is a no-fault state, your divorce attorney may hear other facts in your case that you may be able to use to your advantage.

When Does Child Support Begin After Divorce?

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding California divorce law regards when a parent is required to begin making child support payments during the divorce process. Do payments begin right away? Should parents wait until a court order is issued? Is it considered abandonment if a parent does not pay child support during the separation period? The answer: it depends.

Child support actions typically begin when married parents file for divorce. Once the request for child support is filed, it must be served to the other parent. The receiving parent generally has 9 days to respond before a hearing is set to issue a temporary order. The court will review each parent’s paperwork, listen to testimony, and issue a support decision. This decision will be memorialized both verbally and on the court’s record.

Generally speaking, the sooner a case is filed, the sooner the courts will set a temporary support obligation for the paying parent. This order can usually be obtained within 60 days of filing for divorce, though delays can occur if the seeking parent fails to properly complete the support request or the paying parent does not properly or honestly complete their income and expense declaration.

Legally, you are not required to make child support payments to your spouse unless the court orders the payments. While parents are always free to make arrangements and offer agreements on child support on their own, the court retains the final word for the best interests of the children.

Child support actions, while seemingly simple, can expose parents to numerous frustrations and pitfalls if not handled by an experienced attorney. Whether you are looking to pursue child support from your child’s other parent or are concerned about being required to pay an unfair amount, the Southern California divorce lawyers at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC can provide the strong guidance you need to ensure your best interests are guarded.

To find out more about what our 300 years of combined family law experience can do for you, call our office today at (855) 747-6225.

Is Child Support Mandatory with Minor Children?

When a family goes through a divorce, parents have a legal duty to ensure that the needs of their children continue to be met. To this end, child support payments exist to ensure that a divorce does not severely limit the resources available for a child’s care. While parents often have strong opinions about what is in the best interest of their family, the terms of child support are ultimately set and decided upon by the court. In California, detailed guidelines exist for determining support payments and the state calculates payment amounts through the use of formulas. Once all the variables are accounted for, a judge typically orders child support to be paid following the guideline amount.

Factors which can influence the terms of child support often include:

  • Total income of both parents
  • The expendable income of each parent
  • The projected cost of the child’s needs
  • The amount of time each parent will have with a child
  • Support payment obligations from other relationships

Every divorce will contain unique factors and it is understandable that the guidelines for child support will not be best in every situation. It is possible to request a change in the amount of child support that a court determines to be in order. Preference is not an adequate motive for a change in support and spouses must provide a good reason as to why a judge should approve the request. However, even in situations where payments are set to $0, the legal obligation for child support is never waived. In these situations, a parent can revisit the issue and request that the original guideline amounts are set in place.

How Long Do Child Support Payments Last?

Child support payments will typically last for as long as a child is a minor, however, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, support can be lengthened if a child has special needs, is living at home while in high school (up to the age of 19), or both parents agree that an extension is in the child’s best interest. The period of support can also be reduced in situations where a child becomes self-sufficient such as when they join the military, get married, or become legally emancipated. To modify an order once it is in place, a parent must be able to show that a substantial change in circumstance has occurred.

Attorneys Helping Families with Child Custody Disputes

The process of determining child support is one that all divorcing parents must go through. While guidelines exist to help determine the nature of child support payments, you may have to fight for what is truly in the best interests of your children and your family. If you are currently experiencing a dispute over the terms of child support, contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC and get the help you need. Our Southern California divorce lawyers can bring more than two centuries of collective legal experience to your case.

Call (855) 939-9111 and discuss your case with an attorney in a free phone consultation.

Child Support and Taxes

An attorney to help understand the tax implications of your child support order.

Taxes can be reduced by allowed deductions and exemptions. Deductions reduce the amount of taxable income, and exemptions reduce the adjusted gross income, such as standard withholding or dependency exemptions. If you pay child support or receive it, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a strict set of rules in place to control the deductions and exemptions that you are allowed because of the payment or receipt of child support. Often, the terms of your divorce decree and related agreements will control the extent to which any tax offsets are available. For that reason, it is very important to consult an experienced Family Law attorney at Holstrom, Block & Parke in Corona, California, regarding the tax implications of the child support arrangements reached in your case.

Child Support: A Nontaxable Event

Child support payments are not taxable. That means the parent making the payments cannot deduct them from income and their receipt is tax free to the parent who gets the payments on behalf of their children. To meet the definition of child support payments, the payments must be so designated in a divorce or separation agreement. “Family support” payments will be treated like alimony and taxed as income to the recipient unless the agreement under which they are paid specifically designates a portion or amount as child support.

Child Support and Dependency

Even though the payment and receipt of child support does not create a tax event in and of itself, there is an important tax consequence related to child support payments: who gets to claim the children as dependents in order to receive the dependency exemption?

The IRS says that you must provide more than half of a person’s total support in a calendar year to claim an exemption based upon dependency. In order to resolve dependency questions about the payment of child support, the IRS has created a special rule that controls the circumstances of how and when the payment of support creates an exemption. The rule applies when:

  • The parents are divorced or legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, separated under a written separation agreement or living apart at all times during the last 6 months of the calendar year
  • One or both parents provide more than half the child’s total support for the year
  • One or both parents have custody of the child for more than half the calendar year

The rules do not apply if support is determined under a multiple support agreement or the child’s parents were never married.

The special rule states that the parent who has custody the greater part of the year is the custodial parent and that parent will be treated as the person who has provided more than half of the child’s support. Unless the parties otherwise agree, the custodial parent will be entitled to claim the tax exemption for the child if the other dependency criteria are met. The actual number of days the child spends with a parent will determine the definition of custodial parent where custody is split or where legal proceedings make custody status unclear during any tax year.

The rule allows the non-custodial parent to be treated as the parent who has provided more than half of the child’s support for dependency purposes if the parties agree to that. In order to claim the exemption, the non-custodial parent must have either:

  • A written declaration signed by the custodial parent stating that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent
  • A signed decree or agreement executed after 1984 that states the custodial parent will not claim the exemption for the tax year and the non-custodial parent attached the appropriate documentation to his or her return
  • A signed decree or agreement executed before 1985 that provides for the non-custodial parent to claim the exemption along with a statement that at least $600 was in fact given in support to the child, unless there is a modification to the pre-1985 agreement that says that provision doesn’t apply

Non-custodial parents must attach the appropriate agreement or written declaration to their taxes. The written declaration must be made in a format that follows a particular form.

Talk to a Lawyer

Tax issues concerning support payments and dependency status can be complex. An attorney experienced in these areas can be an invaluable asset. Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke in Corona, California, for more information today.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Child Support For Special Needs Children

Divorce is an emotional experience for both parties. The challenges become even greater when the parents have a child with special needs.

Is a special needs child entitled to receive extra child support? What are the best interests of the child?

It is the right of every child to have high-quality, safe and nurturing child care because all child have special needs. However, some children, because of physical or learning disabilities, may require extra support in the child care setting.

Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children until they reach the age of majority or finish high school – under most, but not all circumstances. Issues surrounding financial support can be complicated and will be taken into consideration when determining how long the non-custodial parent must make payments.

When your child has special needs, the amount of child support may be higher and last longer than for a child without special needs; support payments may be required until the child reaches adulthood.

When your child turns to adulthood, the court determines whether or not he or she is disabled for support purposes. If the individual is unable to fully support him or herself due to a physical or mental disability, the non-custodial parent may be ordered to continue payments.

It is important to realize that unlike other child support orders, when there is a special needs child involved, child support for that child may not be terminated when the child reaches 18.

If you are the parent of a special needs child and have questions regarding his or her child support payments, seek the help of an experienced family law & divorce attorney to best guide you in the process and answer any doubts as well as help you ensure what is in the best interest of your child.

Contact the family law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke. The OC Attorneys to discuss your concerns about your special needs child, and guide you through the child support/ child custody process.

Calculating Child Support and Health Care Coverage

Child support is not just handed out without a process in the Corona family law sector. There are guidelines on how to calculate child support and what the non-custodial parent and custodial parent are responsible for when it comes to their minor child’s overall care and well-being.

Three Common Factors of Calculating Child Support

  • The number of minor (or incapacitated/disabled dependent) children that require financial support.
  • The amount of quality parenting time each of the parents will have with the children.
  • The disposable income of each parent, which is not taken from your gross income, but instead takes into account various financial considerations as well.

These three factors are not the only ones used to calculate child support in Corona, California, but they are the primary factors that impact the amount of child support for the eligible children.

One of the goals of the process is to ensure that when there are multiple children, the allocation goes according to the youngest to the oldest respectively. The initial amount is often allocated to the youngest child and would be equal to what the custodial parent might get if they only had one child. Subsequent amounts for multiple children are adjusted accordingly and are less than the initial amount.

The actual calculation is not as important as the amount paid and received for the care of the children. As a matter of fact, the Corona Family Court can alter the allocation of support depending on the circumstances. The parents can also have the allocation altered when they are in agreement.

Child Support Laws Require Health Insurance for Children

Besides financial child support, the parents are also required by the California child support mandate, to carry health coverage for their children. It is known as medical support. This is another factor that can raise or lower the support amount.

The guidelines are designed so that the insurance amount won’t go over five percent of the gross income of the parent who is carrying it. The parent who pays for the health insurance coverage gets to use the amount as a deduction on the child support worksheet and is part of the calculation.

What that means is that the amount of actual financial child support will be lowered since the court considers both incomes, therefore both parents are essentially paying for the health coverage regardless of which one carries it.

Child support is a complex and detailed process even with the strict calculation guidelines in place. The parents can agree upon an amount or the court may adjust the amount according to the situation.

Regardless of your situation, you need to hire a Corona divorce attorney to help you come to an agreement or help settle things in the courtroom. Ideally, the goal is for both parties to come to a reasonable agreement about child support, but that is not always possible. If litigation is necessary, you will be pleased that you chose an attorney whether you pay or receive child support.

About Dayn Holstrom

Dayn Holstrom is a hard working, compassionate problem solver who welcomes the opportunity to serve you in any way he can. His maximum availability to your questions and concerns begins with your free initial consultation. He is well-seasoned in all matters related to family law and a skilled negotiator and litigator.

Income & Child Support

It is important for parties going through a divorce to understand what monies can be considered income under the child support guidelines used by the court. However, understanding what is or is not considered income is not simple or easy. There are many pitfalls and the calculation may be off by hundreds if not thousands of dollars, if you don’t have a skilled child support attorney to guide you.

California Family Code Section 4058,“Considers gross income that from any source except for child support payments that are actually received or public assistance programs where the eligibility for program assistance is based on need.”

The process of determining income begins when the divorce petition is first filed. Child support is one of the most important issues in a divorce case. Talk to an experienced child support attorney who is knowledgeable in how the support is calculated and can guide you through the entire process.

You ask, “What is income for support purposes”? By statute, income includes, but is not limited to:

  • salaries and wages, including tips, bonuses, commissions, overtime pay
  • rents from rental properties
  • dividends, pensions, interest income, income from a trust or annuity
  • workers compensation benefits
  • unemployment insurance
  • disability insurance benefits
  • social security benefits and alimony (spousal support paid by someone other than the other parent) received from an unrelated case to the parent seeking child support
  • SSI might not be considered income in some instances because it’s based on need
  • recurring gifts
  • lottery winnings (when taken as a lump sum) and gambling winnings count as income
  • etc.

When it comes to business owners, their income is typically the gross revenues of the business minus reasonable business expenses.

In addition, income includes other perks, such as the use of a company car, free housing and reimbursed expenses (expense account). But perks/employee benefits are not necessarily or automatically considered income: the court has discretion.

Is there any monies that aren’t used to determine income? Yes, but there are exceptions to each rule. Below are just a few examples of funds not considered income:

  • student loans that are used for books and tuition are not considered income
  • life insurance death benefits
  • future speculative income
  • stock when it cannot be liquidated or is received in connection with the sale of a business
  • home equity
  • personal injury proceeds (However, interest from invested proceeds are considered income)
  • gifts of a non-monetary nature
  • inheritance money
  • etc.

The determination of child support and what is and what is not income in a child support case can be very complicated.

If you have a child support matter, whether you are the one facing a child support award against you or seeking child support, you owe it to yourself to contact the experienced family attorneys in the law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke.

We will guide you through your issues so you can focus on moving forward with your life. Contact us at one of our conveniently located offices in Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino Counties.

Communicating with Your Children

While going through a divorce, people tend to have difficulty understanding exactly how the process works, what their own conflicting emotions mean, and how to handle this new situation they find themselves in. For families with children, the situation can be even more challenging because talking to children about the problems between mom and dad is just not the easiest thing to do.

You feel uncomfortable discussing this so you’re not sure what to say to anyone about it at all. You may not have even admitted to yourself that your marriage is ending. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, we help parents navigate their way through the often very complicated divorce process. In so doing, we help their children understand and deal with this reality at the same time to ensure that they come out of the process relatively unscathed. Our attorneys can start using their experience and resources today to help you do the same. For a free telephone consultation with one of our attorneys!

Tips on Communicating with Your Kids

As parents, we want to protect our children and prevent them from enduring unnecessary hardship and emotional strain. Unfortunately however, divorce and separation, which in many cases puts a heavy burden on our children, are not always avoidable. Whether you are just starting the divorce process, or you are years into a child custody agreement, communicating with your children is probably one of the single most important steps you can take to protect their best interests.

  • Be honest with your children. Divorce and separation will inevitably bring change to both your life and the lives of your children. For most, change will bring about a mix of emotions—some positive, some negative. Make sure that you have an age appropriate conversation with your children about your situation in order to help them manage their expectations. Pretending that nothing is going to change will set them up for disappointment and lower your credibility.
  • Set aside time to regularly communicate with your children. Making communication a priority will show your children that you care about their feelings and value their input. Sit them down and tell them that they are a priority in your life. This will create an environment where your children feel safe to inform you if they are having trouble coping with things.
  • Use non-verbal cues to show your children you are there for them. Communication is not limited to words. There are a variety of non-verbal ways to communicate with your children in order to reinforce to them that they are a priority in your life. Smile often, hug your children, and make frequent eye contact with them. This will signal to them that you care about them and their feelings. Remember that showing them affection can help to relieve a lot of the stress that your children may be going through during this hard time.
  • Don’t talk negatively about your ex to your children. By venting to your children about your ex, you may be inadvertently causing unnecessary conflict. Children frequently feel caught in the middle of their parent’s breakup. Letting your children know that you them spending time with your ex may help to reduce the stress that they may feel from being caught in the middle. Remember that even though your ex may be the world’s hardest person to get along with, it is in your children’s best interest to have meaningful, frequent contact with him/her.

Overwhelmed by the thought of getting as divorce? Talk to an attorney who can help you manage the process in a way that works for you. Call our office directly today!

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.