How Does The Court Determine Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsBy:  Gerald Maggio, Esq.

California has a child support guideline formula that is used in all cases to determine the proper amount of child support. Generally, the courts and all attorneys in California use one of 2 recognized computer programs based on the child support guideline formula called “Dissomaster” and “X-spouse.”

The factors considered in making child support orders are primarily the gross income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child. However, other factors that can be considered include any itemized deductions the parties can claim on their taxes, medical insurance premiums paid each month, and any mandatory retirement payments and union dues for individuals whose employment requires them to be part of a union and to contribute to a deferred compensation retirement plan (i.e. a pension).

In addition to the basic monthly child support, the court will generally also order that the parents equally share the costs of childcare expenses necessary for the custodial parent or both parents to work, as well as any medical, dental, and vision expenses for the minor child not covered or reimbursed by medical/dental/vision insurance.

Child support can also include expenses for the special needs of a child, such as tutors or other services, as well as the transportation costs for visitation of a parent.

Finally, the Court generally orders that both parents keep their child medically insured with medical insurance if it is available at no cost or at reasonable cost to both parents.

Child Support is generally paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18, or age 19 if they are still a full-time high school student at age 18, unless the minor child dies or becomes emancipated prior to becoming an adult.

Child Support orders can be modified if there is:

  1. A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income;
  2. A change in custody or the amount of time the child spends with each parent; or
  3. Any other change that would affect the child support guideline calculations.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or at

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, “What is Divorce Mediation.”