Child Support Order
A California Child Support Order is a court order requiring one parent or both parents to pay child support every month to help pay for the support of the child (or children) and the child’s living expenses.
Child Support Required
Each parent is equally responsible for providing for the financial needs of his or her child. But the court cannot enforce this obligation until it makes a California Child Support Order for support. When parents separate, a parent must ask the court to make an order establishing parentage (paternity) and also ask the court to make an order for child support. Child support payments are usually made until children turn 18 (or 19 if they are still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support themselves).
Requesting Child Support
Either parent can ask the judge to make a California Child Support Order as part of one of the following types of cases:
- Legal separation;
- A Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (for unmarried parents);
- A domestic violence restraining order; or,
- A Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children.
Determining Child Support
Look at your child support order and see if the timeshare percentage is correct. Your timeshare percentage is calculated by dividing the yearly hours you spend with your child by the total number of hours in the year (8760). If you have more than one child, you should calculate your timeshare percentage for each child and then average the percentages.
Factors Affecting Child Support Payments
- Your tax filing status. Child support is adjusted to account for tax credits.
- Mortgage payments. The mortgage interest or property taxes you pay effect child support. Interest is generally 90% of your total mortgage payment.
- Other children. If you have other children living with you, you may be able to get what’s called a “hardship” deduction, which takes into account the expenses you incur for those children.
- Child care costs. Child care costs are commonly known as an “add on” and are always divided equally between the parents. This includes costs for daycare, medical and dental services.
- Your income and the other parent’s income. Verify that the amounts are correct. If you are paid biweekly, you calculate your monthly income by multiplying the amount paid by 26 (26 paychecks in a year). Take that figure and divide it by 12 (months) to get your monthly gross income. Your gross income goes into the calculation because the computer program calculates your taxes.
- Other income. If you or the other parent receive other income, such as rental income, social security or interest income, that should be included in an income calculation for child support. Non-taxable income such as worker’s compensation, disability and non-taxable social security also should go into the calculation.
- New partner. Your new partner’s income is not included in the calculations because he or she is not obligated to help you pay for your support. It is considered to calculate your taxes which is based on your household income.
- Health insurance. Any health insurance premium that you pay needs to be included in the calculations, including payments for dental and vision coverage.
- Contributing to a retirement plan. Contributions to a mandatory retirement account need to be included.
- Job related expenses. There is a category for “necessary job-related expenses.” You can often get deductions here for uniform expenses, sometimes for gas, car payments, and bridge tolls, for work-related cell phones, and other expenses mandated by your employment.
- Your spouse paying child support for another child. If your spouse or new partner is also pays support, this should be included.
- Union dues. Make sure any union dues that you pay are included.
Termination of Child Support
Child support ends when your child graduates from high school or reaches age 19, whichever is first. If your child’s 19th birthday is approaching, then you should file an Order to Show Cause to terminate support, and file it early enough so that it may be heard prior to the relevant graduation or birthday.
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