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A Comprehensive Guide to Calculating Child Support in California

Whether you are the parent paying child support or the one receiving it, both parents want to ensure their children are properly supported and that the amount ordered is both fair and adequate. But how is child support calculated? What role do parents have in the calculation process, and what can you do if you think the amount needs to be changed? See below for a guide to help you understand the ins and outs of calculating child support in California. For personalized assistance with a divorce or child support matter in Los Angeles or the San Gabriel Valley, contact Blasser Law for help from our experienced and dedicated Claremont family law attorneys.

Understanding the California Child Support Formula

California utilizes a specific formula to calculate child support, known as the “guideline” formula. This formula considers several key elements to ensure that the child’s financial needs are met appropriately. The basic formula used in California is as follows:

CS = K [HN – (H%)(TN)]


  • CS = Child Support amount
  • K = Total income available for child support
  • HN = High earner’s net monthly disposable income
  • H% = Approximate percentage of time the high earner has primary physical responsibility for the children
  • TN = Total net monthly disposable income of both parents

This formula aims to balance the incomes and responsibilities of both parents to ensure fair support for the child.

Factors Influencing Child Support

While the guideline formula provides a basic framework, several factors can influence the final amount of child support:

  • Income of Both Parents. The court considers the gross income of both parents, including wages, bonuses, commissions, self-employment earnings, and other sources of income such as pensions, disability benefits, and rental income.

  • Tax Deductions. Relevant tax deductions, such as mortgage interest, union dues, and health insurance premiums, are considered to determine each parent’s net disposable income.

  • Time Spent with the Child. The amount of time each parent spends with the child, often referred to as “timeshare,” significantly impacts the child support amount. More time spent with the child typically results in a lower child support obligation.

  • Child’s Needs. The specific needs of the child, including educational expenses, healthcare costs, and any special needs, are taken into account.

  • Other Children. If either parent has other children from different relationships, this can affect the amount of support ordered.

Modifying a Child Support Order

Life circumstances can change, and the initial child support order may need to be adjusted. Obtaining a modification requires going to court, and success is not guaranteed, especially if the proposed modification is opposed by the other parent. Here are the steps to modify a child support order in California:

  1. Demonstrate a Significant Change in Circumstances. To modify an existing child support order, there must be a significant change in circumstances. This could include a change in income, loss of employment, a significant increase in income, or changes in the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

  2. File a Request for Modification. The parent seeking modification must file a request with the court. This involves completing the necessary forms, including a Request for Order (FL-300) and an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150).

  3. Attend a Court Hearing. Both parents will need to attend a court hearing where the judge will review the evidence and determine if the modification is justified.

  4. Receive the New Order. If the court approves the modification, a new child support order will be issued. It’s essential to comply with this new order to avoid legal consequences.

Contact Blasser Law in Claremont for Help With Child Support in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley

Understanding how child support is calculated in California and knowing how to modify an order can help ensure that your child’s needs are met appropriately. Whether you are establishing a new child support order or seeking a modification, it’s crucial to have accurate information and proper legal guidance.

At Blasser Law, we are committed to helping parents navigate the complexities of child support in -California. If you need assistance with calculating child support or modifying an existing order, contact us today at 877-927-2181 for quality legal support tailored to your unique situation.

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