Q: How is child support calculated?
A: In California, child support is calculated based on California Child Support Guidelines. For fathers who are currently going through a divorce, it’s possible to look at the California Guideline Child Support Calculator to estimate the amount of support that may be ordered in your particular case. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the judge will determine the final amount of any child support order. In other words, the guidelines are simply those—guidelines.
Child support payments will be based on your monthly income and the amount of time you spend caring for your child or children. In making the final decision, the court will consider any type of income you have, including your wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, earnings from self-employment, interest on assets, dividends, rental income from rental property, Social Security payments or pensions, and any payments owed to you (such as prize winnings). Estimating child support payments can be complicated, and it’s important to hire a San Diego divorce lawyer who can assist you.
Q: My ex-spouse recently remarried. Will I be able to lower the amount of child support I pay based on the income of her new spouse?
A: In most cases, the answer is no. Under section 4057 of the California Family Code, the income of a new spouse will only come into play if there is an extreme hardship. What constitutes an extreme hardship? The definition isn’t a hard and fast one, and the judge will make the final decision. Generally speaking, a judge will only find an extreme hardship in cases where the receiving spouse simply quits working to rely on a new spouse’s income.
Q: If my ex-spouse’s income changes, will my child support payments change?
A: While no payment order will change automatically, the court can change orders if there is a change in circumstances. In some cases, the change in a custodial parent’s earnings, a change in custody, or a change in the amount of time you spend with your children can all be reasons that the court could approve a new order.
Changing a child support order can be a complicated matter. You should be sure to speak with an experienced California family lawyer before seeking a substantial change to your child support order.
Q: I would prefer to settle child support matters outside of court. Is it possible to avoid going to court to handle child support?
A: Yes. If both you and your spouse sign a stipulation (a legal agreement) that establishes your paternity and includes a formal arrangement for you to make child support payments, then this document can become a court order.
Not all stipulations are the same, but most stipulations will include the following information: that the parent who will be paying support is the parent of the child or children, that the parent is willing to pay the child support and is willing to provide health insurance for the child or children if it’s available through the insurer; and that the parent is willing to have the court enter an order without a court appearance.