California child support laws make the determination of child support a simple task in the majority of cases. However, there are cases where there is a dispute about income, and perhaps not just what a parent really earns in income but rather their earning capacity. Other disagreements can also stem from the percentage of time each parent spends with the child and how said time can affect the amount and duration of child support.
Child Support Duration
The duration of child support is set by statute that basically supports children until they reach their 18th birthday. Most divorcing spouses with children will simply follow the Family Code regarding the duration of child support. Generally, the state of California follows this rule:
Child support terminates when a child turns 18 years old except when the 18-year-old child is still a full-time high school student and lives with a parent. In that situation, child support terminates when the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first. California child support also terminates if a child marries, joins the military, is emancipated or dies.
It’s not common for parents to agree to longer support, but it can be written in the divorce or marital dissolution agreement. Extensions of child support are usually put in place for children who have special needs and require additional support, in many cases for the rest of the child’s life. The money is then set up in a trust fund to be handled by a parent or guardian. Another reason child support may be extended is when both parents agree, or if a family law judge decides, that child support will continue until the child graduates from college.
California Guideline Amount
The amount of child support is typically set by the California guideline. The support number is based on a mathematical calculation based on the income of each parent and the time each parent spends with the child or children. While the guideline works for most parents, some cases involve complex income and parenting time. This can lead to disagreements making it harder for the parents to reach a child support settlement.
It is important to note that the family court judge can modify child support if there is a specific legal basis for deviation from the guideline amount. Factors that can contribute to child support modification include changes in salary and time spent with each parent. When a dispute arises between parents, it is best to get legal advice from a local family law attorney to reach a fair settlement.