Child Support in a California Divorce.

Note: This article is not legal advice and is not intended to apply to your specific situation.

Child support is the amount of money the court orders a parent to pay the other parent every month for the support of their child. California mandates the use of a statewide uniform guideline to determine child support. California Family Code § 4050.


Guideline Child Support

California law uses a statewide uniform formula to determine child support. California Family Code § 4055. The results from this formula is also called guideline child support. The two most commonly used programs by courts and attorneys include DissoMaster and Xspouse.

In its most basic form, the California child support guideline formula takes into consideration the following:

  • How much money the parents earn or can earn;

  • How much other income each parent receives;

  • How many children these parents have together;

  • How much time each parent spends with their children (time-share);

  • The actual tax filing status of each parent;

  • Support of children from other relationships;

  • Health insurance expenses;

  • Mandatory union dues; and,

  • Mandatory retirement contributions.

The guideline amount is presumptive correct, and a court must adhere to the statewide uniform guideline and may depart from the guideline only in special circumstances California Family Code §§ 4052, 4057. Parents may agree to a different amount other than dictated by the child support guidelines if they are able to agree.


Additional Child support

In addition to the guideline child support, there are two mandatory additional child support that parents will be ordered to pay, and two discretionary additional child support that parents may be ordered to pay. California Family Code §§ 4062, 4063.

  • The court shall order the following as additional child support: (1) child care costs related to employment or to reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills; and, (2) reasonable uninsured health care costs for the children.

  • The court may order the following as additional child support: (1) costs related to the educational or other special needs of the children; and, (2) travel expenses for visitation.