Parents are legally required to support their children. When parents separate the low earner parent often requests money from the high earner parent. If the parents do not agree on the support of their children and a court order is requested, the court will apply the California mandatory child support formula to the facts of the case. Among other things, the formula considers the incomes of each parent and the amount of time each child spends with each parent. To calculate child support courts use approved computer programs.
Although the parents can agree to a child support amount which is different from the formula, they can only do so if neither parent is receiving welfare and their agreement provides for their child’s needs.
A parent’s child support duty continues until the child is 19, or turns 18 and has finished high school. Parents do not have a legal obligation to pay for post-high school education or training. On the other hand, if a child is disabled and does not receive sufficient income to meet their basic needs, the parents can be required to support an adult child.
As one might expect, there are a number of issues that come up in the calculation of child support. For example, the parent who is self-employed or has an income which fluctuates as in the case of sales commissions or other variables. Issues also arise with regard to the receipt of non-salary benefits such as free housing and meals. Also, deductions are allowed for things like health insurance, union dues and mandatory retirement contributions.
In addition to the parents, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is occasionally involved. This can be for several reasons, most commonly due to the fact that one of the parents is receiving welfare for which the State is seeking reimbursement. Regardless of whether or not DCSS is involved, the same formula is used. Because the formula is complicated it is a good idea for any parent who is facing a child support order to review the facts of his or her case with an attorney to make sure that the formula is correctly applied and they are prepared for any disputed issues.