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California Child Support Calculations

One of the more common questions raised by parents who are considering splitting up or have separated is how child support is determined by courts. Regardless of the nature of the legal custody arrangement between parents that have separated, child support may not be shouldered only by the custodial parent.

In other words, in joint custody arrangements parents that have split up may often share the costs associated with child support. It is very rare for one parent never to see their child or children after a separation, and most couples that have split up share custody in some way. In addition, most states have updated or are updating their guidelines to factor in the number of annual overnights that each parent has with their children to determine the percentages of costs associated with child support that each parent must shoulder.

So while the term "noncustodial parent" is often used, it is rare that either parent will not possess custody in some fashion. While some states may still recognize arrangements that reference a "noncustodial" parent, it is exceedingly rare for a parent to be noncustodial. Joint custody is by far the most common legal custody arrangement nationwide. So, it's not a question of noncustodial parents sharing child support payments. It's more often merely a question of how child support will be handled, regardless of an issue related to custody.

The following article will guide you through the process of making California child support calculations. Consider using FindLaw's child support checklist for more guidance on how to handle these calculations and other issues that arise in figuring out any child support arrangement.

Primary Considerations for Support Determinations

Determining the appropriate level of child support owed by the child's other parent is important in order to maintain the child's standard of living, health, education, and general welfare. This is a process performed by the courts where certain factors and guidelines are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. What is right for one child may not be for another.

Having all the necessary information ready will help the court determine the amount of child support and make the process of determining any child support arrangement move forward far more quickly.

California Guidelines for Calculating Child Support

California courts have certain guidelines set which help in calculating the amount of child support to order in a given case. Using the Child Support Guideline Calculator, you can determine the amounts of child support you and your child's other parent must shoulder. This resource is provided by the California Department of Child Support Services.

When Does Child Support Terminate

Under Assembly Bill No. 3248, Chapter 504, all of the following are examples of circumstances where child support terminates:
  • While the child is high school or a program that provides a degree that is equivalent to a high school diploma, as long as the child is under 19 years of age
  • If the child is emancipated
  • If the child enters active military duty
  • If the child is married, unless the marriage is annulled or results in a divorce, in which case child support may be restored
For more information, consider reviewing the law that is linked immediately above.


Under California Family Code Section 4053, all of the following are examples of what courts consider as relevant factors in their determinations of child support amounts:
  • How much money the parents earn or can earn
  • How much other income the parent receives
  • How many children these parents have together
  • How much time each parent spends with the child/children
  • The actual tax-filing status of each parent
  • Support of children from other relationships
  • Health insurance expenses
  • Mandatory union dues
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • The cost of sharing day-care and uninsured health-care cost

Other Relevant Issues

To review other aspects of child support arrangements, consider using the Child Support Guideline Calculator provided by the California Department of Child Support Services.

Keep in mind that it's only in very limited situations that a judge can order an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines above.

Related Resources

Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about child support:

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney Today

Consulting with a local family law attorney may be helpful for anyone with specific questions about California child support calculations.

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