Before issuing a child support order, family law judges in California consult a set of guidelines provided by the Department of Child Support Services. These statewide guidelines are based on the principle that both custodial and noncustodial parents have a legal responsibility to support their children financially, so child support is determined based upon how much each parent earns and how much time they spend with the child concerned.
If you are ordered to pay child support in California, you will generally be required to make these payments until the child concerned reaches the age of 18. Your responsibility could end earlier if the child gets married, joins the military or becomes self-supporting, and you could be required to keep making payments even after the child has turned 18 if he or she is still in high school and living at home.
Family law judges consult income and expense declarations submitted by both parents before determining how much child support to award. After determining the net disposable income of each parent, judges look at how much time each parent spends with the child. Parents who spend less time with their children are expected to pay higher amounts of child support. Child support payments are ordered to provide for the essential needs of the child such as food, clothing, housing, medical care and basic education.
Child support arrangements may be modified if there is a substantial change in the amount of money that the parents involved earn or the amount of time that they spend with their children. Experienced family law attorneys could explain the steps involved in seeking to have child support awards in California modified, and they could also advocate on behalf of custodial or noncustodial parents in court if necessary. If you would like to learn more about these issues, please visit our page dealing with the child support modification process.