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legaleagle, Lawyer (JD)
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Experience:  Attorney-Business degree from The University of Texas
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What percent of my salary per year is used to determine how ...

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What percent of my salary per year is used to determine how much child support I owe for my child? I make $55k per year. I also pay for my childs medical insurance,dental insurance that cost me $200 per month. I have my child every other weekend Fri-Sun and take him for a couple of weeks in the summer as well as some holidays. What amount is child support should I be paying on a salary of $55k per year?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  legaleagle replied 10 years ago.

Based on the information you provided I can not calcualte the actual amout but below is the formula the court will follow. Just plug in the numbers that are required and you will come up with the amount that the courts would calculate.

Not surprisingly, California probably has the most complicated Child Support Guideline calculation in the nation. The reason is that the California legislature seems to be the most relentlessly bent on fairness, the most thoughtful about how to achieve it, and the most willing to assume that every lawyer has access to a computer to perform the calculation.

Key factors in the child support payments in California include:

  • The higher-income parent's net income. The higher this is, the higher is the support obligation.
  • The lower-income parent's net income. The higher this is, the lower is the support obligation -- but only if the higher income parent spends some time with the child. If the higher income parent spends no time with the child, then the lower-income parent's income does not matter.
  • The percent of the children's time that is spent with the higher-income parent. The impact of this, though, is complicated.
  • The number of children. The more children, the higher is overall child support. The biggest percentage increase comes from 1 to 2 children, where total support increases approximately 60% for the second child. Each child after that continues to increases support. But the increments decline. The incremental increase for the 10'th child is less than half a percent.

Sections 4050 - 4076.


Dacumos (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 150.

For purposes of gross income for the child support calculation, the court found that hypothetical rental income, not actually received, could be counted.

The husband earned $9,400 a year as a legal assistant, but he had two rental properties. His ownership interest in those properties totaled between $200,000 to $250,000.

The husband had been renting the properties at a loss, and the court concluded that he could have rented the properties for more than he did. (It is not clear why the husband had been renting the properties at a loss or how the court concluded that he could have rented them for more.)

The California law allows a court to consider "earning capacity" in counting hypothetical income that is not actually earned, for the child support calculation. This prevents payers from becoming suddenly unemployed around the time child support is calculated.

But this court stretched the definition of "earning capacity" to cover not only payment the husband could have received for work, but also payment he could have received on his rental property.

For the wife, the court went the other way, excluding from the calculation income she actually earned at a second job. The court's reasoning was that the wife worked at the second job only because the husband was failing to pay his child support obligations. The statewide uniform guideline for determining child support orders is as follows:

  • CS = K [HN - (H%) (TN)].
  • The components of the formula are as follows:
  • CS = child support amount.
  • K = amount of both parents' income to be allocated for child support as set forth in paragraph (3).
  • HN = high earner's net monthly disposable in-come.
  • H% = approximate percentage of time that the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent. In cases in which parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children, H% equals the average of the approximate percentages of time the high earner parent spends with each child.
  • TN = total net monthly disposable income of both parties. (To compute net disposable income, see Section 4059).

K (amount of both patents' income allocated for child support) equals one plus H% (if H% is less than or equal to 50 percent) or two minus H% (if H% is greater than 50 percent) times the following fraction:

Total Net Disposable Income Per Month K $0-800 0.20 + TN/16,000 $801-6,666 0.25 $6,66730,000 0.10 + 1000/TN Over $ 10,000 0.12 + 800/TN

For example, if H% equals 20 percent and the total monthly net disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (I + 0.20) x 0.25, or 0.30. If H% equals 80 percent and the total monthly net disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (2 - 0.80) x 0.25, or 0.30.

For more than one child, multiply CS by: 2 children 1.6. 3 children 2. 4 children 2.3. 5 children 2.5. 6 children 2.65. 7 children 2.75. 8 children 2.8 3. 9 children 2.8 4. 10 children 2.86

If the amount calculated under the formula results in a positive number, the higher earner shall pay that amount to the lower earner. If the amount calculated under the formula results in a negative number, the lower earner shall pay the absolute value of that amount to the higher earner.

In any default proceeding where proof is by affidavit pursuant to Section 2336, or in any proceeding for child support in which a party fails to appear after being duly noticed, H% shall be set at zero in the formula if the non- custodial parent is the higher earner or at 100 if the custodial parent is the higher earner, where there is no evidence presented demonstrating the percentage of time that the non-custodial parent has primary physical responsibility for the children.

Unless the court orders otherwise, the order for child support shall allocate the support amount so that the amount of support for the youngest child is the amount of support for one child, and the amount for the next youngest child is the difference between that amount and the amount for two children, with similar allocations for additional children.

However, this paragraph does not apply to cases where there are different time-sharing arrangements for different children or where the court deter-mines that the allocation would be inappropriate in the particular case.

The code speaks of net monthly disposable income. This is a term of art and you should have an idea about how it is defined.

1. First, you cannot include income from the other party's new spouse. Only the income of the spouse themselves can be considered. This is a change in the law since 1992 and orders issued prior to January 1, 1994 might be different and now subject to modification.

2. To arrive at the net monthly disposable income you first start with the gross annual income for each parent. From this are allowed certain deductions. Included in gross income are:

(a) Income from commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, social security benefits and spousal support actually received from another person;

(b) Income from a business proprietorship, based on gross receipts;

(c) The Court may also include employee benefits taking into consideration the benefit to the employee and any reduction in living expenses;

(d) Lottery winnings;

(e) Federal benefits.

3. Excluded from gross income are:

(a) Income from child support payments received from another person;

(b) Income from public assistance.

Note that under special circumstances, a party who is a low wage earner AND is capable of earning more may be charged with "imputed income."

If the Court believes that one parent has voluntarily reduced his or her wages, no matter how justified, it may compute child support based upon that parent's "imputed income" -- the amount they could be earning.

4. Permissible deductions from gross earnings are:

(a) State and federal income taxes. This is not necessarily the actual withheld amount, but rather what should be withheld under the persons circumstances. The tax effects of spousal support are not to be considered in this regard however (even though they can be considered for purposes of spousal support determinations);

(b) FICA or equivalent contributions;

(c) Mandatory Union dues and retirement benefit contributions (required as a condition of employment);

(d) Health and state disability insurance premiums for the parent and his/her minor children;

(e) Any court ordered child or spousal support actually being paid to another person not a party to this case;

(f) Job related expenses such as tools, uniforms, and possibly parking, transportation and mileage;

(g) Hardship expenses, including extraordinary health expenses for which the parent is responsible, uninsured catastrophic losses, minimum basic living expenses for children of other marriages for whom the parent is responsible. This is a complex topic and we suggest you seek legal counsel in this regard.

Earning Capacity

Instead of basing child support on actual net monthly disposable income, the court has the power to base its order on the parents earning capacity. Hence, where one parent has voluntarily reduced his or her income, the court has awarded support based upon what they could have earned instead of what they actually earned.

Examples are where a parent voluntarily entered the priesthood, went on sabbatical, refused employment, returned to college, etc.

Each case presents its own circumstances and there is no formula in such matters except that the court has the power to base its support order on the parents ability to earn. You should seek legal counsel in this type of case.

Child Support Options

Some optional provisions to add to your child support.

1. Medical Insurance. One of the most important expenses that a custodial parent must face at times is with regard to medical expenses. Some choices about how to provide for payment of health related expenses for the child(ren) are:

(a) Where one or both of you has available medical insurance for the child(ren) through your employment at no or reasonable cost, the law provides that the parent who has that benefit must provide coverage for and pay for the medical expenses covered by that policy.

(b) Where there is no such employment benefit or where the cost of such coverage is beyond the financial ability of the employee, the court can add the reasonable cost of health care to the amount of child support; Even where medical insurance is available to one of your for the child(ren), you may want to agree that costs above the insured coverage will be shared by the two of you equally or in some other proportion.

Where both have insurance coverage, you may wish to agree that one policy will be looked to first and then the other and after that, expenses will be paid equally or in some other proportion.

The child support order must include a provision requiring the parent obligated to provide health insurance to keep the other parent informed about whether health insurance is available and, if so, the policy information. There are many laws regulating this topic. I suggest you consult legal counsel.

2. The parents employment, educational, or job- training related child care costs;

3. Costs related to the child's education or special needs;

4. Costs related to visitation. When any of these items are added on to child support, the court is to divide these equally except where one parent demonstrates that another division would be more appropriate. H. District Attorney Enforcement The District Attorney of each county is charged with enforcing child support obligations including medical support when the child is receiving public assistance and when appropriate on behalf of a child not receiving public assistance.

The district attorneys have developed significant tools for the recovery of child support in such cases and should be consulted immediately if you are on AFDC or any form of welfare. They will both obtain an initial order for support and seek increases and enforcement of existing orders.

Because of the overwhelming number of cases presented for action by district attorneys, it is sometimes difficult to get an appointment with them and may be difficult to get your case scheduled. However, if you are on public assistance anyway, the money recovered will go to the county to partially reimburse it for payments under public assistance programs

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