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Child Support

What is the Child Support Formula?

The amount of each child support arrangement varies based on your unique situation. A statewide uniform guideline child support formula is mandated by the California legislature. Here is the formula:


CS = child support amount.

K = amount of both parents' income to be allocated for child support.

HN = high earner's net monthly disposable income.

H% = approximate percentage of time that the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent.

TN = total net monthly disposable income of both parties.

To make it more complicated, K is dependent on TN. See the formula and table below:

K = (1+H%)*(Fraction) (if H% is less than or equal to 50 percent) OR

K = (2-H%)*(Fraction) (if H% is greater than 50 percent).

CS = K[HN - (H%)(TN)]

Additionally, there is a multiplier for each additional child. For instance, if you have two children, the total child support amount based on the guideline formula above would have to be multiplied by 1.6. For three children, multiply by 2, four children, multiply by 2.3. One of the most common child support issue is to figure out the "net disposable income" of each parent.


Since many factors are at play in the calculation of child support, a computer software is typically used to calculate the exact amount of child support. The guideline amount calculated by the software is presumed to be the correct amount. Although, it can be challenged. The key is to ensure that accurate data goes into the software program. A common issue is to determine the parties' respective income available for child support. If either you or your spouse is self-employed, you may need a third-party forensic financial expert such as a certified public accountant's assistance to perform an income available for support analysis. It is critical for your family law attorney to speak the financial jargon of the financial experts. Caleb K. Wan has a double major in finance and international business. His business and finance background brings a greater depth of knowledge in dealing with complex income available for support analysis. It is imperative that you obtain solid legal counsel to protect your interests. Call (925) 289 7989 today to receive help with your support issue.

What are the basic child support principles?

In implementing guideline child support, the Court adheres to the following principles:


(a) A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life.

(b) Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children.

(c) The guideline takes into account each parent’s actual income and level of responsibility for the children.

(d) Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability.

(e) The guideline seeks to place the interests of children as the state’s top priority.

(f) Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.

(g) Child support orders in cases in which both parents have high levels of responsibility for the children should reflect the increased costs of raising the children in two homes and should minimize significant disparities in the children’s living standards in the two homes.

(h) The financial needs of the children should be met through private financial resources as much as possible.

(i) It is presumed that a parent having primary physical responsibility for the children contributes a significant portion of available resources for the support of the children.

What are the factors in calculating Spousal Support?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is payment one spouse receives from another to maintain a standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. In calculating the amount, the Court shall consider all of the factors outlined in Family Code section 4320. These are the so called "4320" spousal support factors:

(a) The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:

(1) The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.

(2) The extent to which the supported party's present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.

(b) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.

(c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support (ability encompass both income and assets), taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.

(d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.(MSOL)

(e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.

(f) The duration of the marriage.

(g) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.

(h) The age and health of the parties.

(i) Documented evidence, including a plea of nolo contendere, of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties or perpetrated by either party against either party's child, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.

(j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.

(k) The balance of the hardships to each party.

(l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.

(m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.

(n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

Similar to the rebuttable presumption against awarding custody to the perpetrator of domestic violence, there is a rebuttable presumption disfavoring award of spousal support to an abusive spouse. 


All of the above factors go into the determination of who pays spousal support. The court will closely examine each spouse’s income and earning capacity.  If you would like more information about how we can provide you with legal counsel in your spousal support matters, please contact us by phone at (925) 289-7989 to schedule an appointment.

Spousal Support

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