Child Support in California

In California, child support is a legal obligation that parents have to financially support their children. It’s typically paid by the non-custodial parent (the parent with whom the child does not primarily reside) to the custodial parent (the parent with whom the child primarily resides). Here’s an overview of how child support works in California:

  1. Calculation: Child support in California is calculated based on state guidelines known as the California Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines take into account factors such as each parent’s income, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, tax deductions, health insurance costs, and mandatory retirement contributions.
  2. Income Determination: Income for child support purposes includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, rental income, self-employment income, and certain benefits such as unemployment or disability benefits. It’s important to note that income for child support purposes can include more than just traditional employment income.
  3. Child Support Orders: Child support orders are typically established by a court as part of a divorce, separation, or parentage action. The court will consider the California Child Support Guidelines when determining the appropriate amount of child support to be paid.
  4. Modifications: Child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a change in income or custody arrangements. Either parent can request a modification of child support through the court.
  5. Enforcement: Child support orders are legally binding, and failure to pay child support can result in enforcement actions by the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).
  6. Duration: In California, child support is generally paid until the child reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school, or until the child turns 19, whichever occurs first. However, child support can continue beyond these ages in certain circumstances, such as if the child has special needs.
  7. Responsibility: Both parents are responsible for supporting their child financially, regardless of custody arrangements. Even if one parent has primary custody of the child, the non-custodial parent is still typically required to contribute financially through child support payments.

It’s important for parents to understand their rights and obligations regarding child support in California, and consulting with a family law attorney can be helpful in navigating the child support process.

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