What is Child Support Meant to Cover?

Tue 16th May, 2023 Family Law

Every parent throughout the generations would agree: no matter your age or background, profession or family situation: raising a child costs money. Even the most scrupulous parents will find themselves with a lot of bills to pay – not to include extra, non-essentials such as tuition to a private school, sports, or vacations. Children need a lot of time, money, and attention. They are absolutely reliant on their parent/guardian to care for them. Accordingly, when two parents decide to divorce or otherwise separate, California law has been developed to protect the needs of the growing child and help to ensure that the changing family dynamic does not result in a decline in care. The courts in California have a baseline expectation for both parents to contribute toward the costs of raising a child. The court also endeavors to be fair. This has culminated in the court considering various factors when calculating how much child support should be paid. These factors include the incomes of both parents, as well as their expenses and the amount of time each parent spends with their child. 

This article is meant to serve as a high-level discussion of what you can expect child support to go towards in California.

What Does Child Support Cover?

The California court system presumes that a child should receive equal support from both parents. However, when discussing matters like child support, it is very important to remember that not all support is monetary. Parent “A” may make significantly less money than parent “B” and cannot contribute to their child’s care financially the way that parent B can. However, it may very well be that the child spends 90% of their time being cared for by parent “A,” not parent “B.” The time a parent spends caring for their child is seen as valuable by the court – the child gains the benefit of the care, and the other parent gains the benefit of not having to seek out and employ childcare.

As shown above, it is important to remember that every family is dynamic. What constitutes a fair child support order in one case will not necessarily work in another scenario with different parents, children, and obligations. Accordingly, the California court system takes many factors into consideration when creating a child support order. The court’s primary concern is always ensuring that the best interests of the child are met. But you can rest assured that they will approach that goal with the intention of treating both parents as fairly as possible.

Along with reviewing the income and expenses of both parents, in determining a child support amount, the court will also consider factors such as:

  • The monthly cost of food, shelter, and clothing
  • Health insurance costs
  • Childcare costs
  • Education (fees, registrations, etc.)
  • Medical care costs
  • Extracurricular/entertainment expenses (music lessons, sports, etc.)

Time and Money

As discussed briefly above, in some circumstances, one parent may have custody and care for the child the vast majority of the time. This can happen, for instance, when one parent solely has visitation rights. The court endeavors to give credit to the parent with custody by accounting for the cost associated with providing for the majority of the child’s food, housing, and other expenses. The other parent’s child support payment is meant to contribute to those costs.

Contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler

Divorce has far-reaching consequences. Ensuring that you retain a knowledgeable, skilled divorce attorney can help you be certain that you will navigate through every twist and turn of the process with your best foot forward. Contact our office today.