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How Does California Calculate Child Support?

If you are seeking or expect to pay child support as part of your divorce terms, you likely have questions. Child support is decided on a state level (vs. federal). Each state treats custody and support matters differently. While there are individual factors regarding each family, California courts must adhere to statewide guidelines when they set child support orders. 

Although it’s not guaranteed to be the final support amount, you may use California’s Payment Estimator to get a fair idea of what to expect. It combines the state’s guideline calculation with the information you provide. 

What factors determine California child support?

Besides statewide child support guidelines, the court may consider each parent's share of the following factors:

  • Gross income, which commonly includes but is not limited to salary and wages, bonuses, other sources of income, interest, and benefits related to disability, workers' compensation, and unemployment, and business profits. 
  • Timeshare of the children.
  • Childcare costs.
  • Eligible tax deductions.
  • Insurance costs.
  • Job-related expenses.
  • Financial hardships such as health expenses and living expenses.

What do I need to do if my spouse or I want child support?

If you have kids, you will have to attach a child support calculation to your divorce paperwork – even if neither of you plans to pay child support. If your marriage lasted 10 years or more, the court will probably ask for more information about your finances. If you have a Hello Divorce plan, that’s all built into our process and software.

Can my spouse or domestic partner and I determine child support details together?

Yes, you and your child’s parent may determine the details of your child support arrangement and submit it to the court with your divorce paperwork. You can also work out a parenting plan outside of court.

Do I have to fill out a child support/maintenance worksheet if my spouse and I agree to no child support?

Yes. California courts need to review it to make sure the agreement is in the best interest of the child and fair and equitable.

How do I modify child support in California?

If you want to change the amount of child support ordered in your divorce settlement, you need to prove a change in circumstances. Some of these may include job loss or significant changes in income. Read how to request a modification in child support here.