The Formula — Input

Child support is set according to a formula described in California Family Code § 4055. The amount of support ordered is dependent on the following factors: Each of the parties net disposable income, approximate time the high earner has physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent, number of other children supported, costs of child care which enable a person to work or go to school, health care expenses and whether there are extraordinary expenses associated with the children. Travel expenses and costs relating to education and other special needs may be considered by a court. There are exceptions to the formula for low-income parents. You will find the actual formula in the Family Code. Lawyers and practitioners use computer software to determine the actual support levels.

Second Mate Income

The income of a parent’s subsequent spouse or nonmarital partner is generally not considered in setting support.

What is Income?

The court may consider income from whatever source derived, but does not include income from child support or public assistance which is based on “need.” Income includes commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish a child support order. The court may consider employee benefits or self-employment benefits, taking into consideration the benefit to the employee, any corresponding reduction in living expenses and other relevant facts.

Earning Capacity

The court may consider the earning capacity of the parent in lieu of their actual earnings.

Deductions

The following deductions are permitted for calculating net income: Actual state and federal tax liability, FICA, mandatory union dues, deductions for health insurance or health plan premiums, child and spousal support to persons outside this relationship, necessary job expenses, and hardship deductions allowed by the code or by prior court decisions.

AFDC/Welfare

There are special considerations when AFDC payments are being made. See Family Code § 4071.5 & 4200 et seq. There are limitations on the applicability of time share factors, deductions from income and hardships when computing the minimum level to be paid. Payments are made as a reimbursement to the county and not the other parent.