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How is Child Support Determined?

Each parent is legally responsible for the financial support of their child. California courts make child support orders using a formula commonly referred to as “Guideline Calculation” which primarily factors both parent’s income levels and the amount of time each parent physically spends with the child.

A parent’s legal support continues until the child:

  • Turns 18 and has graduated from high school;
  • Turns 19; or
  • Marries, dies or is legally freed in some way, such as joining the military.

A court can also order both parents to continue support for a disabled adult child if that child cannot support him or herself.

A California judge will look at the “net disposable income” of each parent. This means the parent’s income after taxes, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, health premiums, child or spousal support already being paid, and costs associated with raising children from another relationship.

Here is a short (non-exhaustive) list of the types of expenses included when figuring out child support needs:

  • Monetary support (food, clothing, housing, etc.)
  • Health insurance
  • Back payments
  • Interest on back payments

Monetary support includes food, clothing, housing, basic education and other essentials for a child.