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What factors go into the determination of child support?

Every California parent has a responsibility to support his or her child, if only financially. This means that if you are a parent, you should expect to pay for the things your child needs.

While some parents view this duty to financially support a child as a punishment or a reflection of their skills as a parent, the fact is that child support is for the benefit of the child. As such, the courts base child support amounts on a formula that take specific factors into account.

Basic child support guidelines

A basic calculation for child support will depend on numerous factors, including:

  • How much parenting time the paying parent has
  • Each parent's income and earning potential
  • How many other children the paying parent is responsible for
  • Mandatory expenses
  • Other expenses, including taxes, insurance and daycare costs

To get a basic estimate of what a parent might pay, you can use an online child support calculator. However, understand that this is an estimate, as the courts (or parents) could increase or decrease this amount.

Adjusting this amount

Courts or parents may adjust child support amounts in some situations. Often, these adjustments stem from special circumstances, including extensive travel requirements or extraordinary educational or medial needs.

Coming to an agreement outside of court

It is also possible that a parent might agree to pay more or accept less money in discussions outside of court. While this might seem like a win-win situation, understand that even if parents reach an agreement, the courts must still approve it. If an adjusted amount is extremely unfair or is not in the best interests of the child, the courts may not accept it.

In most cases, though, the courts will follow the state guidelines and calculation process to determine child support amounts.

That said, there are still many issues that can complicate child support matters and calculations, from establishing paternity to requesting modifications. As such, it can be helpful to consult an attorney who can help parents understand their legal rights and obligations regarding child support in California.

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