Child Support in California

California’s Family law provides that both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children. Child Support is the amount of money a court orders a parent or both parents to pay for the support of his or her minor children’s living expenses. A Child Support order may be part of a court order in a divorce, paternity action, child custody action, or separate child support action.

Child support payments provide for any or all of the following: monetary support, health insurance coverage, arrearages, and may include interest on delinquent child support obligations. As child support matters can become very complex, it is always prudent to seek the advice of an attorney for your particular situation. Below is general information regarding child support.

How Child Support is Calculated

California adheres to a Statewide Uniform Child Support Guideline. What this means is that in order to determine the appropriate amount of child support, courts must apply a formula. The formula is calculated based on various factors, including the monthly net income of both parents and the approximate amount of time the child spends with each parent (known as the time-share percentage).

Before the child support amount can be determined, each parent must complete an Income and Expense Declaration and provide proof of their income. While the court is to presume the formula support amount to be correct, special circumstances can lead the amount to be unfair. When this occurs, the court may deviate from the guideline formula support amount in consideration of special circumstances.

Alternatively, subject to the court’s approval, parents may agree to an amount of child support instead of the statutory formula support amount. The court reviews child support agreements to make sure the agreement is consistent with statutory guidelines and that the child support amount is appropriate.

Modification of Child Support

Even after a court issues a child support order, the court maintains jurisdiction and child support orders may be modified (changed) as deemed necessary by the court. Either parent may file a Request for Order to modify child support with the court. Generally, there must be evidence of a material or substantial change of circumstances before a court will modify a child support order.

A court will consider a variety of factors in determining whether there has been a substantial change of circumstances including a change in either parent’s ability to pay, an increase in the noncustodial parent’s income, earning capacity, and extreme financial hardships.

As mentioned above, Child Support matters can become very complex and may require the need for an experienced attorney. If you are a parent seeking child support, receiving child support, or paying child support contact the attorneys at Chung & Ignacio, LLP. Our attorneys will provide the expertise and experience necessary to ensure your and your child’s best interests are protected.


  1. California Family Code sections 4050 and thereafter
  2. California Department of Child Support Services
  3. San Bernardino Child Support Services