CHILD SUPPORT BASICS

     One of the most important subjects for a Lawyer who concentrates on the area of Family and Divorce Law is the issue of Child Support.

     Child Support is essentially an award of a monthly payment  to the parent who has custody of the child or children from the parent who does not have custody. In the State of California, this is a subject that the Court must always address to ensure that the children's financial needs are adequately met.

     Child Support is calculated according to a mandatory guideline formula that is adopted by the California Family Code. The formula is rather complex and it is usually calculated on one of the approved support calculation computer programs.

     The most important factors that are entered into the programs are:

1. The income of each parent.

2. The percentage of time that the non-custodial parent has with the children.

3. Any of the legally allowed deductions from the parent's income such as Health Insurance costs or Union Dues.

     The support program considers the relative tax rates for each parent and the monthly child support order is based on each parent's net income.

     It is important for an attorney who handles a lot of child support matters to be familiar with the specific details of the Family Code and how it relates to the final award of the Child Support amount.  

     When an attorney represents the party who is being asked to pay child support, that attorney must make sure that all the proper entries are put into the program so that it will result in an award that is the accurate but still as low as legally possible. It is often necessary to carefully review a client's exact tax situation and any other dependencies to make sure that the support is as low as legally permissible.

     For example, if the Non-Custodial parent has remarried. He or she will likely now file taxes as Married Filling Joint. This will actually result in a higher tax rate, but a lower net income for the non-custodial parent. The child support order will actually be lower than if the parent was single! The new spouse's income is not considered for support.

     These are the kinds of small details that should not be overlooked when the Court considers a request for Child Support.