Understanding How Child Support is Calculated - The Men's Legal Center


Understanding How Child Support is Calculated

If you are the non-custodial parent in a divorce or paternity suit, it is more than likely you will be paying child support. In California, child support is calculated based on a formula embedded in software called California Child Support Guidelines.

Basically, the formula determines the level of child support based on the parent’s net, and the timeshare the non-custodial parent has. In same-sex marriage or domestic partnerships, the same formula applies. Most of this information is provided via an Income and Expense Declaration filed with the court.

The payor should legitimately bring up all deductions to bring to reduce his or her net. Some deductions, if the payor is a W-2 employee, include unreimbursed employee expenses.  Normally these are high in some blue-collar workers where the employee pays for their own tools. But they could go up in white-collar workers where they travel extensively and pay for travel out-of-pocket.

The payor may have new biological children in his or her household for which he or she can request a hardship deduction–basically, asking the court to put his or her inhouse biological children on the same footing as the child or children for which he or she is paying child support to an outside custodial parent.

The payor may have recurring out-of-pocket medical costs, medicine, and travel expenses that should be brought to the court’s attention and should ensure that the Payee or child support recipient reports his or her income properly.

If the payee/recipient is a W-2 employee, then make sure that he/she properly reflects his/her pay on the Income and Expense Declaration.

Common mistakes include monthly income incorrectly based on a W-2 pay stub because pay periods are improperly categorized as monthly, bi-monthly, bi-weekly or weekly, or having the court use an improper tax filing status.

One of the factors in the California Child Support Guideline formula is a timeshare. The court must input the timeshare of the non-custodial parent. Remember, it is important to correctly calculate the actual timeshare.

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