Child Support & Parenting Plan


Parenting Plan and Child Support

A key component of a Parenting Plan is child support. Payments are based on both parents’ incomes and how much more the higher-earning parent makes, but there is no law that caps child support at any specific dollar amount.

California’s Child Support Laws Are Strict

Child support is a court order that a divorced or separated parent must pay each month to help cover the cost of a child’s expenses. In California, the courts mandate specific guidelines that determine the amount of child support each parent must contribute. Even if the parents are dividing physical custody down the middle, a judge may order the higher-earning parent to pay child support.

Both Parents Share Responsibility for Supporting Their Children Financially

The law requires those making child support payments to continue until the child is 18 and graduated from high school. A parent is automatically exempt from paying child support if their child enrolls in the military, gets married, or becomes emancipated. A parent should inform the court of these changes.

The standardized California Child Support Guideline Calculator is used to calculate the amount of child support in each case. The calculator is a function of your incomes, certain deductions, and the percentage of time each party spends with the children. The figure generated by the calculator is conclusive and the required child support amount.

Parents cannot Waive or Limit a Child’s Right to Child Support

The average amount of money paid in child support by noncustodial parents is about $430 per month for one child. The amount can change based on the number of children being supported, the parents’ income, cost of living and inflation, job changes/loss, etc. If one or both parents gets a new job and a raise, that will affect child-support payments.

If someone can no longer afford to pay the amount of child support ordered by the court, the court must be informed and a request filed. Ceasing to make payments is not an option; consequences include the loss of a drivers license and other privileges.

Parenting Transcends Marriage

The obligation to support a child is traditionally a condition of marriage, but it transcends marriage. If you are a parent, it’s your responsibility to financially support the children you parent. Your parental responsibilities are legally determined by:

  • Acknowledging that you are a parent and welcoming your children into your home and caring for them.
  • Establishing your relationship with a paternity test.

Child Support Discussions Can Be Polarizing

As you work out your parenting plan and child support payments, you’ll need to inventory and put a price tag on all of your children’s expenses and decide who’s going to pay for these in the future.

Once you start drilling down, you’ll find yourself with a growing list of expenses that includes school lunches, clothing, health insurance, doctor appointments and procedures that might include braces and occasional sprains and broken bones. Then there are summer camps, after-school activities such as dance classes, sports and their associated gear and equipment. If your children are still young, there is the cost of daycare.

As kids become more self-sufficient, it gets easier in some ways, but it also gets more expensive. There is the cost and upkeep of digital devices. Bicycles, then cars with their related maintenance and insurance. College or vocation school may be a mutually shared expense to which both parents are contributing.

How to Stop Paying Child Support in California?

Short of reaching 18 and graduated from high school or being fully emancipated, a parent may stop child support by going to the court and proving that a child no longer needs or requires that parent’s financial support. Child support is enforced by law, with a penalty of losing one’s drivers license and other privileges.

Custody can take a range of formats

  • Joint Legal Custody – Both parents are responsible for making decisions about a child’s health, education and welfare.
  • Joint Physical Custody – Each parent will have significant periods of physical custody so the child has continuing contact with both parents.
  • Sole Physical Custody – Children will live and be under the supervision of one parent.
  • Sole Legal Custody – One parent has the right to make decisions relating to the child’s health, education and welfare.
  • Visitation – A parent who does not have physical custody is usually given reasonable visitation time with the children, unless there is some reason it would be detrimental to them. The visitation schedule can be as detailed as necessary.

Other things to consider

  • Making arrangements for holidays, school breaks and vacations –  You’ve always spent the important holidays together, but things likely will change. Decide where your children will be spending Christmas or Easter, how they will spend their school vacations. Who pays for camp and other activities?
  • Financial considerations – If one parent has physical custody, determine how you will deal with other expenses, including clothing and medical insurance. Who claims the child on his/her taxes?
  • Education – Decide on private or public schooling, but also be thinking about the activities associated with school, including events and teacher conferences. Will you attend these together, separately or take turns?
  • Medical care – Kids have accidents and get sick–what happens when your son breaks his leg and ends up in the emergency room? Which parent will respond?
  • Religion and cultural heritage – If you and your spouse come from different cultures, is there room to teach your child about both religions and cultures?
  • Disciplining your children – What is acceptable to both of you? Strive for consistency.

Judge Orders Deadbeat Dad to Pay Child Support

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