The state of California uses a complex formula to determine child support, based on several factors. The purpose of the state guideline is to provide some uniformity in the way support is calculated, and to ensure that a child receives an adequate level of support to meet his/her needs. The guideline is based on the principle that a parent’s primary obligation is to support their child, and that both parents are mutually responsible for this support.
Some of the primary factors used to calculate a child support award in California include:
- The gross incomes of each parent
- The amount of time each parent spends with the child
- Mandatory payroll deductions from each parent, such as union dues, health insurance, and retirement accounts
- Income tax deductions available to each parent (e.g., mortgage interest, property taxes, etc.)
- Cost of daycare and other childcare costs
Although the amount determined by the state formula is “presumed to be the correct amount of child support ordered”, courts can deviate from the formula if there are certain factors present. These include:
- The parent who is ordered to pay child support has an extraordinarily high income such that the amount determined by the formula exceeds the needs of the child(ren).
- The contribution of the parent is not in proportion with the amount of time they spend with the child(ren).
- The parents spend close to an equal amount of time with the child(ren), but one has significantly higher housing costs than the other.
- The child has significantly higher ongoing health care and other costs (as is typically the case with special needs children) which requires a higher level of support than is calculated by the formula.
Examples of Special and Extraordinary Expenses
In California, special and extraordinary expenses are those which are not within the traditional basic child support amount. Some common examples include:
- Treatment for health concerns and illnesses
- Extracurricular activities like summer camps or dance classes
- Private education and tutoring
- Travel-intensive sports or after school commitments
Who pays for extra expenses in a divorce?
Parents can make their own agreement about how extraordinary expenses will be shared between them. Parents can agree to what expenses they will share, and how they will share them, which includes the division of expenses which do not necessarily qualify as extraordinary expenses under the guidelines. For example, a husband and wife may choose to share these extra expenses 50/50, instead of in proportion to their incomes.
Parents can make their own arrangements to pay extraordinary expenses. However, for an agreement to be enforced, it must be made into an order, signed by a judge, and filed in your case file in family court.
When one parent incurs bills for extraordinary expenses, that parent may ask the other parent to pay their share by promptly providing an itemized statement of that expense. If the entire expense was paid, that parent must provide proof of the payment and request reimbursement of the court-ordered share.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Beverly Hills and Los Angeles Child Support Attorney
During a divorce, child support is a contentious issue that must be resolved. There are several factors that are considered by the courts with these issues, and the amount of support awarded is often dependent on the strength of the arguments that are presented by each side.