How Is Child Support Determined?

California law provides that both parents have a general obligation to support their minor children, both natural and adopted, whether or not the parents were married. Child support can be requested by one party from the other through an action for dissolution, legal separation, nullity, paternity or a domestic violence action.

In general terms, child support is based upon the incomes of both parties, which parent has custody and how much time the non-custodial parent has with the child or children. Once the information is collected, a computer program, used by both attorneys and judges, calculates support.

Child support is always modifiable and may be changed when either party's financial circumstances change or there is a change in the custody or visitation schedule. The revised law effective July 1, 1992 in most cases dramatically increased the level of support being ordered. A consultation with an attorney utilizing the computer program will give you an idea of the possible increase or decrease in the amount of support you are paying or receiving.