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How is child support determined in California?

If you and your spouse are divorcing and you have minor children, the children will likely split their time between you and your spouse's house once the divorce is finalized. In many cases, the child will stay primarily with one parent to keep their schedules consistent, particularly during the school year. The other parent will typically be granted parenting time and be required to pay child support to provide for the child's necessities. Child custody and support issues can be a major hurdle for many divorcing couples, so it is helpful to know how child support is handled in California.

Courts in California will consider a number of factors when determining how much child support the non-custodial parent needs to pay. Generally, the court will focus on how much money is required to maintain the child's standard of living post-divorce. The court will consider the child's health needs, education, basic necessities after-school activities and general welfare. Not all children are the same, so the courts will make decisions regarding child support on a case-by-case basis.

Courts will also consider other factors, such as each parent's involvement in the child's life, how much income each parent earns, the total number of children the parents have together and separately, day-care costs, health insurance expenses and other costs.

Based on its guidelines, the court will determine a certain amount that the non-custodial parent will have to pay each month. In most cases, the parent must support the child until one of the following circumstances occur: the child turns 18 and is a full-time high school student, completes the 12th grade or turns 19. However, child support orders can be modified if there is a change in circumstances.

Source: FindLaw, "California Child Support Calculations," accessed on Jan. 15, 2018

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