Child Support in California


Right to Child Support

In California, both parents have the obligation to support their minor children, whether the children are born during marriage or out of wedlock. For children born to unmarried parents, paternity must be established before the non-custodial father would be required to provide child support.

The parent who has custody is entitled to receive support on behalf of the child or children. Child support in California is based on a standard guideline calculation which takes into consideration two major factors:

  1. The custodial time each parent has with the child or children, expressed as a percentage, and

  2. The respective income of each parent.

If one of the parents is wealthy, child support may deviate upwards from the standard formula to ensure that the child will share in the lifestyle of the wealthy parent

The child support obligation continues until one of the following occurs:

  1. The child reaches the age of 18 years; or

  2. Is a full-time high school student until the time the child completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first, or

  3. The child marries, joins the military, is emancipated, or dies.

Establishing Child Support

In order to establish child support, you must locate the other parent as that parent will have to be served with the request for order to establish child support.

If your children were born out of wedlock, you must establish paternity first. There are a few options to establish paternity: the father may sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity; the parties may stipulate to paternity before the Court; the Court may find that paternity is established based on the parties’ testimony; or the Court may order a DNA test to confirm paternity.

You will have to file a Request for Order with the Court to establish child support. The Court will require both parties’ income information and any supporting child custody and visitation information.

Once a child support order is obtained, you will have to enforce it. If the non-custodial parent voluntarily pays the child support obligation each month, you would not have to worry about taking further steps to enforce the support order. However, if the non-custodial parent does not pay the child support obligation as required, you may get an enforcement order, through which the non-custodial parent’s wages will be garnished to collect child support.

Keep This in Mind:

  • California law requires that both parents maintain health insurance coverage for the benefit of each child if that insurance is available at no cost or at a reasonable cost to the parent.

  • The parents shall equally share all reasonable and necessary health care costs of each child. However, the parents may agree to a different allocation of these costs.

  • The Court will award additional child support for any child care costs related to employment,

  • The Court may award additional child support any costs related to the educational or other special needs of the children.

  • The Court may also award additional child support for any travel expenses for visitation.

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