by Jennifer Lawton, Lerandeau & Lerandeau, Family Law Attorneys Fresno.

“Child support is the amount of money that a court may order a parent, or both parents, to pay every month to help support their children. Each parent is equally responsible to provide for the financial needs of his or her children. The obligation to pay support is not enforceable until such time as a court makes a child support order.  In order to get an order, a parent must file a motion asking for it.” Jennifer Lawton, Lerandeau & Lerandeau, Family Law Attorneys Fresno.

Child support payments are usually payable until each child turns 18 (or 19 if they are still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support themselves). California has a statewide formula (called a “guideline”) for determining how much support should be paid. If parents cannot agree on the amount of support, the judge will decide how much will be paid using a guideline calculation. The guideline calculation is based on two factors:

1) Each parent’s “net disposable income.” This means the parent’s income after state and federal taxes and other required deductions. The court may order support based in part on bonuses, commissions, overtime, and other supplemental or non-wage income if the court determines that this income occurs regularly. Certain income is NOT counted when determining a child support obligation. For example, the court cannot consider income received by a parent from the government based upon his or her need.

2) Each parent’s time-share with the children. The court will calculate “timeshare” (how much time each parent spends with the children) by comparing the amount of time that each parent has primary physical responsibility for the children. In general, this means that the court will count the number of hours a parent spends with his or her children. Usually, child support payments will decrease as his or her time share increases.

Making a guideline calculation is complex due to the many provisions of federal and state tax laws. As such, calculations are only made by judicially approved guideline calculation software, only one of which is open to the public. The State of California’s free guideline calculator is located at the following link:



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