What is Minimum Child Support in California?

05Jan, 23

Every state sets different terms for calculating child support payments for divorcing parents. In California, there are a variety of elements that affect how child support is determined and how much one parent ends up paying. Because determining child support can be complex for both parents, many of them find themselves with questions about a child support order. For example, many parents are curious as to whether there is a minimum amount of child support in California that must be paid. This is because sometimes a parent is afraid their ex will not pay enough or anything at all.


How is Child Support Determined in California?

When a couple divorces and they share children under the age of 18, child custody and child support arrangements are legally required. This is to ensure that the children in a divorce have a proper living situation and that their basic needs are met at all times. When determining who pays child support and how much they pay, one of the main aspects the court will take into consideration is the child custody situation. For example, in cases of sole custody, the parent who does not have primary custody, known as the noncustodial parent, is required to make payments to the other parent with whom the children live. In cases of joint custody, the court focuses more on each parent’s income, frequently ordering the parent who earned the majority of the income to make payments to the other parent.

Your local court will look at the following aspects when determining who pays child support and how much they pay:

  • Child custody orders
  • The income of both parents
  • The number of children involved
  • Basic and specific needs of the children involved
  • Amount of time each parent has with the children

How is My Child Support Payment Calculated?

The state of California uses a specific formula to calculate child support payments in a divorce. It uses several factors to properly calculate a child support payment that is fair for everyone.

The formula used is: CS = K (HN – (H%)(TN)).

Each letter stands for a specific factor, which are:

  • CS: This simply stands for the total amount of child support calculated as a result of the formula.
  • K: This represents an amount separately calculated that states how much income a parent is required to commit to child support. This number is based on how much each parent earns.
  • HN: HN stands for “high net,” where the higher-earning spouse’s disposable income is used.
  • H%: This percentage represents the higher-earning spouse’s parenting time versus the other.
  • TN: TN represents the total net disposable income of both parents, which is combined for the formula.

What is the Minimum Child Support Payment Required in California?

Because each child support order is unique to every case, there is no set minimum for what a parent must pay. Instead, the proper amount will be determined by the state’s set formula to calculate a fair payment that can properly care for the children involved. However, the state recognizes that this formula may not always take into consideration outside circumstances that can affect payments. Because of this, in some cases, the parent paying child support may try to convince a judge to order them to pay less than the amount calculated by the state’s formula. They will have to provide sufficient evidence as to why they should be allowed to pay less, such as if one parent is not contributing to the children’s needs. One parent’s income may also be significantly higher, resulting in a disproportional figure for the calculated payment.


Q: What is a Mandatory Child Support Add-On?

A: In some cases, a child support order has “add-ons,” which are additional expenses a parent may be required to pay. A mandatory child support add-on could include healthcare expenses for a sick child, reasonable schooling or training, and more. It is best to consult a child support attorney to determine what add-ons may be applicable to your situation.

Q: What is the Average Child Support Payment Per Child in California?

A: Data has found that the average divorced parent pays around $430 per child in child support payments in California. However, that number can change drastically depending on the income of each parent and their children’s unique needs. A child support lawyer can help estimate the amount of child support that may be involved in your case.

Q: How Long Does Child Support Last?

A: The paying parent is required to make child support payments for each child until they reach the age of 18. This means that even if two of the children have reached the age of 18, a parent may still be required to make child support payments for years until their last child has become an adult.

Q: Is it Possible to Change a Child Support Order in California?

A: Whether you are the parent paying or receiving child support payments, you do have the right to request a modification to the order in place. The court understands that circumstances can change, whether one parent loses their job or a child’s needs change quickly. If you request a modification, you will have to provide proper evidence as to why the change should be granted.

Q: Is There a Maximum Amount of Child Support?

A: There is no set rule or law that sets a limit on how much a child support payment can be. This means that as long as the court sees the amount calculated as fair, it can be implemented. Failure to pay child support on time can lead to severe legal consequences. It may be possible to have your child support order modified, depending on any changes to your circumstances.

Child Support Assistance in Riverside

At the Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic, our team is dedicated to assisting our clients through complicated family law cases. We understand how complex circumstances like determining child support are, which is why we provide expert legal services and advice to help you through the process. Whether you have just started the divorce process or need help modifying a previous child support order, our team is prepared to assist you. To learn more about our legal services, and how we may be able to assist with your California child support case, contact us today.

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