Spousal & Child Support


The California Legislature adopted an algebraic formula to calculate child support on July 1, 1992.  Child Support is determined by a distinct calculation set forth under California law which uses the net income of the parents along with the parent’s visitation time to determine the amount of child support the supporting parent must pay.  Most courts and legal practitioners use a software program to perform the algebraic formula called the Dissomaster to determine the calculation.  The numbers are placed into the dissomaster and the software produces the amount of child support allocated to each parent.  The dissomaster also determines spousal support as well.

Child Support Enforcement

When a parent has failed to pay child support there are three options for the supported parent.  First, the parent ordered to pay child support may be held in contempt of court.  This is a criminal proceeding for failure to obey court orders and he/she may be placed in jail.  Second,  child support enforcement agencies may be contacted to assist the supported party to receive payment for child support.   The California Child Support program works with parents and guardians to ensure children and families receive court ordered child support.  Third, the most effective way to receive unpaid child support if the parent is employed with a consistent income paid by an employer is to levy his/her wages.  In this case, through a court order, the employer pays the supported parent directly and the proceeds are taken from the parent’s paycheck.  This is the most effective method as payment is made consistently.

Child Support FAQ

Q: How is child support determined?

A: Child support is determined using guidelines pursuant to California law. The guidelines factor in the parents’ income and the amount of time each parent is with the child.

Q: What if my ex-spouse is not spending the money on the children?

A: Child support is to be spent on household expenses. Unfortunately, California law does not provide a legal remedy to prevent a payee from spending the money on other expenses, including personal expenses. As long as the payee is not spending the support on anything illegal or in ways that would harm the child the court does not intervene.

Q: What if I lose a job or my income is reduced do I still have to pay the same amount in child support?

A: Child Support is always modifiable upon a “change in circumstance” so if a job is lost or your income is reduced the prior orders can be modified to reduce the amount of child support you pay.

Q: What if I am owed Child Support by a parent that lives out of state?

A: If the party ordered to pay child support lives out of state you must open a case with a local child support agency and they will work with the other state in assisting you to obtain payment for child support.

Q: If I seek more time with the child will the amount of child support I am ordered to pay become reduced?

A: The amount of child support calculated toward each parent factors in the amount of time each parent spends with the child so if you obtain more time with the child then the amount of child support you are ordered to pay is reduced.

Q: What happens if the other party will not pay child support?

A: If the other party refuses to pay child support please seek an attorney as contempt proceedings would have to be initiated. In this case, the court holds, essentially, a criminal hearing for violating a court order. A more efficient approach is to levy the parent’s wages so the employer would pay you directly from the paycheck.

Q: What if the other parent now has children from another marriage.

A: His or her child support payments may be reduced if the other party is now supporting other children.