The vast majority of parents who are not the primary custodian of children in a divorce will be ordered to pay some form and amount of child support.
Child support in California generally continues until the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is still in high school and living with the custodial parent, in which case it continues until the child either completes high school or reaches the age of 19. Regardless of age, child support is automatically terminated if a child dies, marries or becomes emancipated.
Various factors are considered in San Francisco family court and in California child support determinations in general, and some may be weighed more heavily than others, depending on the case.
- Of primary consideration is the income of the non-custodial parent, and the relative incomes of the two parents, including investment income and other forms of revenue that may not be derived directly from employment. A significant income disparity between the two parents may have a substantial impact on the amount of a child support order.
- The unrealized earning potential of a parent may be considered if the court determines that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
- The number of children each parent has to care for, and how much time each parent spends with each of them will be considered. If some or all of the children spend a substantial amount of time with the parent who is not the primary custodian, the child support payments may tend to be lower. The court will also consider any expenses the non-custodial parent may incur directly on behalf of the child, such as childcare and education expenses.
- The taxes and health insurance expenses that each parent is responsible for will also be considered, as well as other obligations such as retirement accounts and union dues.
In San Mateo family court and in California in general, the child support guideline amount is determined algorithmically by a computer program, and is presumed to be the actual amount that will be ordered unless sufficient affirmative evidence is accepted by the court to demonstrate that this amount would be inappropriate or unfair. Such evidence must be presented by a parent (or parents) who want to challenge the guideline amount. Factors that may be considered by the court include:
- The parents have already agreed to another amount.
- The sale of the family residence has been deferred by the court in the best interest of the child, and the monthly rental value of the home exceeds the the total amount of the mortgage payment, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.
- The non-custodial parent has an extremely high income that is not appropriately accounted for in the guideline amount.
- The custodial parent’s financial contribution to the child’s care is insufficient.
- Unequal time-sharing visitation arrangements exist between the parents among their multiple children.
- The time the child spends with each parent is similar, and the proportion of each parent’s income spent on housing is substantially different.
- The child has special medical or other needs that entail significant costs.
The state of California Department of Child Support Services website includes a child support calculator that can be used to calculate a rough estimate of the amount of child support that may be ordered in a particular case.
Contact Lurkis, Joyce & Del Bove today
The dedicated, experienced child support attorneys at the family law firm of Lurkis, Joyce & Del Bove, LLP represent clients in child support proceedings and all matters related to child custody & parentage actions throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.