What is child support?
Child support is the amount of money that one parent pays to the other parent every month for child-related expenses until the child reaches the age of 18 or 19 if the child is still in high school. While each parent is responsible for providing for the financial needs of the child, one parent may be required to pay child support based on a number of factors (discussed below). It is important to remember that child support belongs to the child, not to the parent. Therefore, the monetary support is for child-related expenses, not for parent-related expenses.
Note: Child support obligations may remain for life for special needs children, if it is unlikely that they will be able to provide for themselves.
How is child support determined?
In 1992 California implemented uniform guidelines (the so-called DissoMasterTM) for the calculation of child support. DissoMasterTM calculations are based on two main factors 1) income and 2) percentage of time that each parent spends with the child. While other factors, such as filing status of each parent, health insurance expenses, mandatory union dues, the cost of daycare and other such factors, income and time-share are the two main factors for child support calculations.
The court may rule that other expenses, such as uninsured medical costs, extracurricular activities, special needs, and others, may be equally shared by the parents, be paid by one parent only, or be paid in unequal parts by both parents (example – father pays 30% and mother pays 70%).
When is child support modification appropriate?
Child support modification is warranted when there is a change of circumstances. Such change can be increase or decrease in one parent’s income, or a change in the time share each parent has with the child. It sometimes happens that one parent loses his or her job, and cannot provide for the children. The court will adjust child support in the appropriate amount in order to make sure that the children’s financial needs are met.