Calculating child support

THROUGHOUT the years that I have practiced family law in the State of California, I have heard many ideas from clients as to how they think child support is calculated in the State of California.   Unfortunately, some of their ideas are misinformed or not complete.  Some feel that they are stuck with a low child support amount due to various circumstances such as the age of the child.   Because of this miscalculation, they prefer to keep a low profile about the issue and not deal with the matter altogether.  This becomes the disadvantage.  Parents forego what they are entitled to by law.  Allow me to explain how child support is calculated.

First of all, child support is computed pursuant to a California Statute also known as “uniform guideline child support.”  This mathematical computation calculates the appropriate level of support for a minor child.  Numbers are plugged-in and then a child support figure is calculated.

Like many mathematical equations, many factors and figures are used to calculate child support.  Gross earnings of both parties, medical insurance, union dues, mandatory retirement, and other supported minor children are just some of the factors that are plugged-in to this formula.  It is simply not just the father’s income or the mother’s income, but both incomes and deductions are used to calculate child support.  In the State of California, it is the duty of both parents to support the minor child.

Moreover, child support is always modifiable.  This means that either party can go back to court to open up the issue to ask for a decrease or an increase in the amount of the child support.  In other words, it would be advantageous for the custodial parent (usually the mother) to go back to court ever so often so that an increase in child support will be granted by the court.  On the other hand, if the non-custodial party (usually the father) loses their job or get a pay decrease, it would be advantageous for them to go back to court and reduce the child support amount.

Because child support is modifiable, the level of support will not be stagnant or the same as the child grows up.  For example, income numbers used in 2010 will not have the same outcome as if used in 2016.  Inflation is taken into consideration.

The issue of child support could and should be planned out by both parties as the child grows up and as circumstances change.  Because child support is modifiable, parents are better equipped to fashion an appropriate level of support that is beneficial for their children and at the same time, an order that caters to their own income.

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Ethelene F. Salas, Esq. is a practicing family law attorney.  Ms. Salas is a Filipino-American born in the Philippines, raised in the United States, and speaks Tagalog fluently.  The Law Offices of Ethelene F. Salas is located at two locations – the main office at 100 N. Barranca St., Suite 700, West Covina, CA 91791 and affiliated offices at 18000 Studebaker Road, Suite 700, Cerritos, CA 90703.  To schedule an appointment with her, please call (626) 858-4646 or visit

Atty. Ethelene Salas
Atty. Ethelene Salas

Ethelene F. Salas, Esq. is a practicing California attorney. She assists clients throughout Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire with matters in areas such as divorces, paternity, custody/visitations, child and spousal support, restraining orders, guardianships, wills/trusts, bankruptcy, and family/employer based immigration.

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