Last month, the Los Angeles Child Support Services Department held several educational programs for parents who were interested in learning about child support. As Child Support Awareness Month comes to a close, it is important to ensure that parents still have access to important information about child support in California.

In California, children are entitled to financial support from both of their parents. When parents are married and/or live together, children generally benefit from that situation. However, when parents decide to split up it can be difficult to determine which parents will be responsible for the financial well-being of any children they may have. Should the custodial parent be responsible for the majority of the child’s costs? Do parents with no visitation rights have a responsibility to pay child support? California has taken the liberty of creating a uniform calculation system to determine how child support and financial assistance should be determined.

California Statewide Uniform Guideline

California uses a standard formula to determine parents’ financial responsibility when they no longer share custody of a child. The formula is very complex. It balances a number of key factors that help to determine the financial capability of each parent and the needs of the child. California strives to ensure that the best interests of a child are preserved when his or her parents divorce.

Using a standard formula prevents parents from using child support payments as a bargaining chip during a divorce. Parents are also prohibited from negotiating child support responsibilities in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Since the standard formula is incredibly complex, California has created an online calculator to help parents determine their financial child support responsibilities. The DissoMaster can be accessed here. The calculator will ask you to input information that will determine the appropriate child support amounts for each parent. The most important factors that go into the calculation include:

  1. the number of children affected by the divorce,
  2. the income of each parent, and
  3. the child custody arrangement.

Other factors that will be considered in the calculation of child support in California include each parent’s:

  1. Self-employment and W2 wages;
  2. Disability income;
  3. Worker’s compensation;
  4. Interest income and dividends;
  5. Mortgage payments;
  6. Property tax payments;
  7. Existing child-support responsibilities for other children;
  8. Health insurance premiums and costs;
  9. Union dues;
  10. Mandatory minimum retirement contributions; and
  11. Additional income from new spouses or partners.

The amount of time a parent spends with a child can also be a factor in the determination of child support. Parents who have visitation rights may be required to spend money to:

  1. Physically get to their child, or
  2. Bring their child to them.

The more visitation rights a parent has, the more expenses a parent has for that child. These expenses can be considered and reduce the amount of financial child support that will be required to be paid by law.

Note, parents who are denied visitation rights can still be required to pay child support. Failure to pay child support is a crime. You will face criminal charges if you continually fail to meet your child support obligations.

A court will also consider the amount of financial support that will be necessary to ensure the health, well-being, and education of a child. Extraordinary circumstances – such as a physical or mental disability or special education needs – will be factored into the equation.

Child support payments are generally deducted directly from a parent’s source of income. For example, if you earn a standard W2 paycheck you can expect to have your child support obligations deducted directly from your income. If you are collecting disability or worker’s compensation any child support obligations will be deducted from those amounts before they are sent to you. Child support payments are deposited directly with the custodial parent. This prevents a non-custodial parent with child support obligations from withholding child support payments.

If you and your child’s parent are considering a divorce it is important to understand how that process will affect your child. Hiring a good divorce lawyer may be a good first step to help you resolve any outstanding issues like child support. Get more information by visiting


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