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Calculating Child Support

Asking for child support in California is generally a straight forward process. However, having an attorney assist in you asking for child support can help you avoid a few common pitfalls.

When both you and the payor of child support are W2 wage earners, calculating the amount of support to be paid is simple. However, parties often disagree on what we call “timeshare”–the time each of you spend with your child or children. Who gets credit for the time the children are in school? Or sleeping? This common disputes can have a significant impact on the amount of child support you receive. It is important that you consult with an experienced family law attorney before filing a motion for child support.

When you or the payor of spousal support is self-employed it can create an area of confusion for the court in calculating child support.  More often then not, a self-employed individual’s income as stated on his or her income tax returns is not the actual income the court should consider in setting support. This is because the court can “add-back” certain tax deductible expenses to a self-employed individuals income.  It is very important that you consult with an experienced family law attorney if self-employment income is factor in your child support case.

In calculating child support the court takes into consideration various deductions from income. These include but are not limited to mortgage interest, property taxes paid and  health insurance. Some of these so called deductions increase the amount of child support you receive, but some of these deductions actually decrease the amount of child support you receive. It is very important to consult with an experienced family law attorney prior to filing your motion, so you have an understanding of how these deductions affect the amount of support you will receive (or pay).

While the court has little discretion in setting child support, as in California it is based on the guidelines enacted by the legislature, there are instances where the court can deviate from the calculation. These instances fall under a unique set of facts and circumstances, which if is why it is important you talk to an experienced family law attorney before pursuing child support.

It is often wrongfully presumed that a court has the ability to order child support for months or even years before a party makes a request. If you want to receive child support you must file a request for child support, and the court lacks jurisdiction to order support before the filing of your request. For instance, if you file a request for child support on June 12, the court can only make an order for support effective July 1.

Griffith, Young & Lass has experienced family law attorneys on hand to help answer all of your questions regarding child support. While you may simply want to consult with one of our attorneys prior to filing your own motion, or hire one of our attorneys to pursue child support on your behalf, we are here to assist in any capacity.