Child Support

In 1992, California adopted a statewide uniform guideline for child support. This means that by plugging numbers into a formula, a judge can determine what child support should be paid. Sounds simple... but here's the formula:

CS = K [HN -- (H%)(TN)]

While you might not need an advanced degree to get a fair and reasonable child-support order, wouldn't it be great to have someone on your side who knows the system? Let me help you navigate the ins and outs. In a nutshell, there are two main things to consider when calculating child support. One is income, and the second is the amount of time you spend with the child or children.


When parents are setting or modifying (changing) a child support order, they will both be required to submit a form that says what their income is and what their monthly expenses are. Both parents also have to file their last two months' pay stubs. This information gives the judge a good idea of what the parents' average monthly gross income is.
Time With Children

The assumption is that having the children in your care costs money. This assumption applies whether you have the children from 3pm to 8pm (when you spend money on groceries to feed them dinner) or from 9pm to 7am (when they're sleeping and presumably not costing you anything).
But there are other things the Court can take into
consideration, like whether one or both parents pay for health
insurance, union dues, or mandatory contributions to a
retirement plan.

The Court can also impute income to unemployed or
underemployed parents or to those who get job benefits
that could be considered a form of income. For example,
if you work as a building manager and get free rent as part
of your job, the Court may impute income to you that is
equal to the fair rental value of your apartment.

Remember that under the law, child support comes first. Your
rent, groceries, car payments and everything else come after
you've fulfilled your obligation to support your children.
So the more time the children are with the paying parent, the less he or she will pay. And the more they're with the supported parent, the more child support he or she will probably get.

Again, this is just a rule of thumb, and the guideline formula will apply. Also, if one parent has very little time with the children, or if one parent has a very low income, then slight changes to the schedule won't have much effect.
Setting or Changing Child Support

Whether you want to change an existing child support order or need to ask for child support for the first time, the good news is that the process is relatively quick and easy. Unlike a motion to get or change child-custody or visitation orders, a child support hearing doesn't require mediation first -- you could be in and out of court in about a month.

Check out our service levels to see whether you just need help with forms, need an advocate on the day of your hearing, or want someone to handle all aspects of your case. Then contact us for a consultation!
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