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Child support 101: What you need to know

When parents make the decision to part ways, it often forces children to change their way of life. Their parents’ divorce forces children to adjust from living in a traditional family setting to a single-parent household. Because of this sudden change, recreating a stable environment is important because children thrive on stability.

Child support is designed to help children maintain the same quality of life that they experienced before their parents separated. Even after you choose to file for divorce, you and your spouse remain financially and emotionally obligated to your children.

The Income Shares Model

California follows an Income Shares Model of setting child support. This means that the court looks at both parents’ income when determining how much the non-custodial parent should pay. The benefit of the Income Shares Model is that, in a stable situation, child support should is set to an amount that allows the child the same standard of living they had grown accustomed to before their parents chose to divorce. 

After answering a few questions on the child support calculator, the court will arrive at an amount intended to ensure your child can live a healthy life under the given circumstances.

In addition to this amount, the judge presiding over the case may look at several other factors when determining support, including:

  • Childcare expenses
  • Extraordinary medical costs
  • Educational expenses
  • Recreational activity fees
  • Travel between taking kids to and from parental visits

Once the judge sets the final child support amount in the divorce decree, the court can modify the order if necessary. In some cases, the court will disallow modification requests until a set period has passed. In certain situations, such as job loss, incarceration or relocation, you may be able to file for modification sooner.