Child support is the amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay the other parent every month for the support of the child(ren). California has a complicated formula for calculating “Guideline Support,” the amount of support that is ordinarily ordered. The court relies on software programs, the most common of which is known as “Dissomaster,” to perform the calculations. We would be pleased to demonstrate the Dissomaster program to you and calculate Guideline Support under your circumstances during your initial, free consultation.
While there is usually not grounds to cause the court to deviate from Guideline Support, there is very often grounds to dispute the figures that relied upon to calculate Guideline Support. For example, if one spouse is not employed, or is not fully employed, the other party may be able to prevail upon the court to “impute” income that party. That is, the court may calculate child support based on a party’s earning capacity rather than his or her actual earnings. The court is not required to accept the actual income earned by a party.
Child support payments are usually ordered for a child until the child reaches the age of 18. However, if the child turns 18 but remains a full-time high school student and is not emancipated, the court will order support until the child either reaches the age of 19 or graduates high school, whichever comes first. Parents may agree to support a child longer, but absent such an agreement, the court will not order further support, the only exception being that the court may also order both parents to continue to support a disabled adult child that is not self-supporting.
The court may award child support to a parent when the parent is separated from his or her spouse, in the process of a divorce or legal separation, or when paternity has been established for a non-spouse parent.