California Child Support Calculator
First of all, recent studies show that the rate of divorce in California is 10% above that of the national divorce rate. The divorce rates in California now stands at 60%. These statistics show a worrying trend in the family setting in any society. The most affected in any divorce are children. Divorces leave children vulnerable to financial and mental distress. It is for precisely this reason that the state of California upholds child support guidelines to ensure that every child form a divorced or separated home receives financial support. The California child support guidelines offer the base of the California guideline child support calculator. The California child support calculator is used to estimate the child support that an obligor parent will be required to pay an oblige parent.
While the California child support calculator may give an estimation, it is the court commissioner or family law judge who determines the final amount of a child support order. The commissioner or the judge is mandated to ensure that the amount of child support is fair and equitable for both parent and child. As mentioned, the calculator gives only an estimate and is not a sure guarantee of the amount of child support to be ordered.
The underlying guidelines principles that form the basis for the California child support calculator are:
- The first obligation of a parent’s to support his/her children according to the parent’s situation in life.
- It is the mutual responsibility of both parents to support their children
- The guideline is presumed to be correct in all cases except in special and isolated cases.
- Children must receive fair, timely and sufficient support through child support orders according to the high standard of living and cost of raising children in California.
In general terms, the guidelines are based on the monthly net disposable income of each parent and the amount of time the child spends with each parents.
Applying the Guidelines
Before using the California child support calculator to come up with the dollar amount of child support, there are prerequisites when using the California child support calculator which are:
- Understanding of California family law
- An understanding of California federal tax law
Calculating Child Support
The factors that the California child support calculator can be widely categorized into:
- Eligible children, where California states that eligible children must be under 19 years or still in high school.
- Parenting time percentage of each parent
- Monthly income of both parents
Calculating the child support a parent is obligated to pay utilizes a complex formula. The good news is that the state of California has made it easier for such calculations by offering the free California child support calculator. The input required by the calculator includes:
1.) The amount of income earned by each of the child’s parent.
The income includes income from all sources be it wages and salaries or self-employment income. Income is given in various forms including:
-income in the form of money, property or services
-any payment or credits due or becoming due
All incomes are considered regardless of whether or not they reported or taxed under the federal law. The end goal is to make the calculation more of a mathematical equation rather than a judgment call.
2.) A mortgage obligation, property tax obligation and any other required expenses
3.) The number of children that the parents have together
4.) Any children from a prior marriage.
This includes any other outstanding court-ordered support obligations
5.) The amount of time that the child spends with each of the parent in terms of physical custody
6.) required union dues
7.) Health insurance costs
8.) Mandatory retirement contributions
9.) The income of a new spouse if either of the parents has remarried
These factors are used by the California child support calculator to assess the appropriate amount of support. Once plugged into the calculator, an amount will be generated.
The Complex Formula
As stated above, the California child support calculator uses a complex formula to calculate the actual amount of child support.
CS = K (HN- (H %)( TN))
CS refers to the child support amount which the formula will calculate once all the information is plugged into the calculator. For couple with more children, the value of CS must be multiplied by a figure set out by the law according to the number of children.
K refers to the total income of both parents to be allocated as child support money. The amount is dependent on how much the parents earn and how much time the higher learning parents spends with the child.
HN refers to high net which is the net monthly disposable income of the high earning parent
H% is the approximate time the high earning parent will have physical responsibility over the child compared to the other parent.
TN is the combination of the total net monthly disposable income for both parents.
It is no surprise that both lawyers and judges use a calculator for determining the dollar amounts of child support. In general, when there is a greater disparity between the income of the two parents and the high earning parent spends less time with the child, then the more child support that parent will have to pay.
Can There Be Deviations From the Guideline Amount?
The California child support calculator will then give an estimate based on the information given above. However, it is the judge who ultimately decides what the amount of child support will be. The final amount may be coherent with that of the calculator’s estimate or be a little higher. This is because the judge takes into account other factors. For example, a child with a special need or disability necessitates extra expenses which will be reflected into the child support amount. There are other factors that a judge looks into that a calculator cannot properly determine in order to give the final verdict. The final amount may be lower or higher than that generated by the calculator. They include:
- For a parent who has an extraordinarily high income and is required to pay child support, the formula calculates an amount that would exceed the needs of the children
- The parent’s contribution is not commensurate to their custodial time
- When both parents have equal time with the children but one parent has either a higher or lower percentage of income used for housing.
- It is obvious that a child has special medical needs would require greater child support than the amount dished out by the formula.
The judge determines the appropriate amount for child support and this order will go into effect. Hence, the paying parent must comply with this order. The order may only be changed when there is a material change in circumstances and the court agrees to do so.
Typically, the child support money is automatically deducted from the obligator’s income and paid to the recipient parent. As a result, this guarantees that the child receives the necessary support.
The California Child Cupport Calculator Conclusion
In conclusion, using the California child support calculator necessitates the direction of a lawyer to help in feeding the right information to the formula. However, as mentioned severally, the California child support calculator only gives an estimate which may be adapted at a similar, higher or lower level by the judge who is the final determinant of the amount of child support to be paid.
Accessing the California Child Support Calculator
Why a Lawyer’s Help is Needed
It seems like the process of using the California child support calculator is quite simple. Unfortunately, it is this simplicity that has caused many parents to fill in the wrong data. This has had adverse effects of the amounts they end up paying in child support, or ending up on the wrong side of the law. Therefore, there are a number of family law specialists who can help any parent to fill in the correct information when it comes to the California child support calculator. For that reason, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Child support is mandated by California law and failing to adhere could lead to potential jail time or a fine. Consequently, there is need to be cautious while using the California child support calculator because it only gives a possible estimate which may significantly differ from the judge’s final determination. However, the California child support calculator still remains to be a very useful tool to give a rough idea of what the required amount for child support will be.
California child support does not have to bog any parent down. As long as there is a general understanding of the California child support guidelines and a willingness to follow those guidelines, then the journey to the child’s high school graduation will be smooth. The help of a lawyer will come in handy from time to time.