Child Support – Frequently Asked Questions
When the court calculates your child support payment, the custody arrangement and the income of each parent are the two main factors considered, but other factors affect the payment amount too. The state of California uses an algorithm to determine a base number for child support. That number is then modified based on the specific circumstances of each couple. To learn more about child support, read the frequently asked questions below.
Who pays child support?
Each parent has an equal responsibility to support their minor children. In any child support proceeding, the amount of support must be calculated using the “statewide uniform child support guideline” (i.e., a computer program).
How much support do I have to pay?
It depends. The child support computer program considers the relative incomes of the parties, the time spent with each parent and many common tax deductions as shown here. You can access the California child support program on the state government website.
Will I have to pay forever?
No. Payment of child support normally ends when the child reaches age 18 or until the child completes the 12th grade or reaches age 19, whichever occurs first. After that, the parents can agree between themselves to continue support.
Can I ask that child support be taken out of the other parent’s paycheck?
Yes. After the court decides the amount of child support, a document called an Income Withholding Order is mailed to the other parent’s employer with instructions on how much to deduct and where to send the payment. You can ask your local child support agency to help you at no charge.
What about special needs children?
The responsibility for child support of an adult child who is incapacitated from earning a living and without sufficient means can be a lifetime obligation. To the extent of each parent’s financial ability, both have an equal responsibility to support a child of whatever age (whether a minor or adult).
Can one parent decide on the amount of child support?
No! Child support must be at least the statutory guideline amount determined by the statewide formula. The court must approve the child support amount. Parents can negotiate the dollar amount for child support between themselves as long as the value is at least equal to the guideline amount.
What is timeshare?
It is the percentage of time each parent has physical responsibility for the children. It’s considered when calculating child support payments. If you take more time with the kids, your child support could be decreased. But only after the court approves any decrease or increase.
Do children of domestic partners qualify for child support?
Yes, certainly. The California Domestic Partner’s Rights and Responsibilities Act gives registered domestic partners the rights, benefits, protections and obligations that apply to spouses under California law.
Who pays for health insurance?
That depends. Either or both parents must maintain health insurance for the children if it is available to the parent(s) at “no cost or reasonable cost.” The good news is that payments for health insurance are figured into the calculation of child support.
Can I collect unpaid child support arrearages?
Yes. Child support orders and judgments (including 10% interest and penalties) are enforceable until paid in full. That means a court action to recover child support arrearages can be started at any time, even after the child has reached the age of majority.
What if I have more questions?