By definition, Child Support is a financial contribution paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent towards the expenses of raising his or her children. That seems pretty cut and dry. However, child support can turn into a major issue as divorces are often wrought with emotions and often times parties use the children as financial pawns in their divorce. This is also true in paternity matters where the parties aren’t married.
In most states there are specific guidelines which are followed in the determination of how much child support is to be allocated. Each state is different, but most states take into consideration the income levels (both earned and unearned) of both the parents as well as the expenses associated with raising the child in their determination and the percentage of time the children spend with each parent. That is a very broad example of how it can be calculated. Often there are complicated formulas and schedules that are used. Keep in mind that a judge has the authority to deviate from the guidelines it he or she determines that the situation warrants it.
In California, the Court will generally have jurisdiction over the issue of child support until the minor child turns age 18 or until the age of 19 so long as the child is enrolled in full-time high school. In Los Angeles County, and in Lancaster, California, the Court’s routinely use the Dissomaster program to calculate child support (and spousal support too!). In fact, the DissoMaster program is used by almost all family law professionals to determine guideline child and spousal support payments in the State of California. It has been used in the California judicial system for over 20 years for the purpose of computing support calculations under the California Statewide Uniform Child Support Guidelines.
Currently, there are a lot of different online programs that purport to calculate support just like the Dissomaster program does. However, not all of those calculators are accurate, including the County of Los Angeles calculator that is available online through the Department of Child Support Services. Often times these online tools, while helpful to get a “rough” idea of where support may come out at are not nearly as robust for a number of reasons, particularly for various tax purposes. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney at the Johnson Law Firm will ensure that when you have a child support calculation completed, it will be reliable and in alignment with what the court may order. Still though, child support can be a tricky issue because of a lack of understanding by one or both parties.
To that end, child support is often misconstrued by the payor, the person paying the support, who may feel that the custodial parent is not using the funds to support the child. On the other side of the equation is the custodial parent, or payee, who may feel that they are barely making ends meet while the non-custodial parent’s lifestyle has barely changed. More often than not, they are both generally misconceptions.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about child support: