How Does The Court Calculate Child Support in Sacramento?
Child support in California is calculated according to an algebraic formula found in the Family Code. This formula is referred to as the Statewide Uniform Guideline and is most heavily influenced by time-share with the children and income.
Courts no longer have broad discretion in ordering child support; they must adhere to the formula. As a result, only certain factors can be used to modify an initial calculation.
Several resources exist for calculating child support. The family court division of the Sacramento Superior Court offers a free child support calculation service through the Sacramento Law Library. Also, California has an online payment estimator that utilizes the guideline formula. While these resources are free, the variables such as timeshare can vary dramatically with aggressive legal representation.
The formula is as follows:
CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)]
CS – the child support amount
K – the amount of both parents’ income that is to be allocated for child support
HN – the high earner’s net monthly disposable income
H% – an approximate percentage of the time the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent.
TN – the total net monthly disposable income of both parents.
It is common practice to use software in applying the formula and computing child support due to the complexity of the formula. Judges are required to have an understanding of the formula, and the relationship of each of the factors. However, even judges are encouraged to use the software employed by the court in computing child support.
There are three main items to consider in the formula: (1) Timeshare, (2) Net Disposable Income, and (3) Amount of Income Allocated for Child Support
Timeshare with Children
This component represents the percentage of time that the parents have primary physical responsibility for the child. Note that it is physical responsibility and not physical custody that is taken into account. Some local courts include timesharing tables that assist the trial court in approximating the percentage of time the high earner parent has primary physical responsibility for their children.
In case the parents have different timesharing arrangements for different children, the average of the percentages of time will be used as the value for H% in the calculation.
Imputed Timeshare for School
Timeshare may be imputed to a parent when the child is not in either parent’s physical custody, but still under the physical responsibility of one parent. This issue often arises when the child is at school, and the parent wants credit for the time the child is not physically with them. Usually, the court will credit the time a child spends in school, except when the noncustodial parent shows that they are primarily responsible for the child during school hours.
The court should consider the following issues in determining timeshare credits:
- Who pays for the transportation or who transports the child
- Who is designated to respond to medical or other emergencies
- Who is responsible for paying tuition or incidental school expenses
- Who participates in school activities, fundraisers, or other school-related activities
Timesharing may also be imputed in cases where the care of a disabled child is provided by out-of-home care, or in cases of grandparent visitation.
Net Disposable Income
The net disposable income is the sum after allowable deductions have been subtracted from gross income.