What is Child Support?

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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 formula (called a "guideline") Opens new window for figuring out how much child support should be paid in all cases. The primary factors that are considered in the guideline are:

  • The income of the parents, and
  • The amount of time they will be responsible for taking care of the children.

In addition to the basic amount of child support, the guideline provides that parents share the costs of:

  • Daycare necessary for the parents to work, and
  • The child's medical expenses.

Child support may also include expenses to meet special needs, such as:

  • Tutors, or
  • Transportation costs for visiting with each child.

Both parents will be ordered to keep their child covered by medical insurance, if it's available at no cost or at reasonable cost.

Parents who are divorcing or separating may agree on the child support plan, but a judge must approve the amount of child support payments.

When parents cannot agree on child support, the judge decides what the payment amount will be.

Child support payments are usually made until children turn 18, or 19 if they are still in high school full time, living at home, and can't support themselves.

  • Parents may agree to support a child longer.
  • The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child who is not self-supporting.

You might want to contact the Family Law Facilitator Opens new window who is available at no cost to help prepare forms, calculate child support according to the guideline, and provide information about how the court makes child support decisions.

For more information, please see the Child Support Opens new window section of this website.






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