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There are many ways that a child’s custody may be divided in the wake of his or her parents’ divorce. In California, a child may share their time between two households or they may spend the majority of their time with one parent and only visit with the other. In situations where a child is in the primary or sole custody of one parent, it is often the case that the custodial parent will receive financial support from the noncustodial parent in order to pay for the expenses required to raise the child.

Money paid for the raising of a child is child support, and when child support amounts are calculated, courts look at a host of financial factors. These factors are weighed against both of the child’s parents; the actual and potential earning capacities of both the mother and the father can be considered in setting a monthly child support amount.

Most obviously, a court will look at how much money each parent earns. Earnings can be tabulated from wages, tips, commissions, salaries and other compensation paid in exchange for performing work. Less apparent earnings can include government benefits, income from pensions or trusts, alimony and inheritances.

While it may seem that a noncustodial parent always pays more support than a custodial parent, this is not a hard and fast rule. Because courts look at the financial situations of both of a child’s parents when making a support ruling, the opposite scenario can result. In some family law proceedings, a higher earning spouse is granted custody of the child and therefore provides the majority of the financial support for the child living under his or her roof.

Child support provides for the financial needs of a child. Though most children share the same basic needs, the level of financial support required by every California child is unique to his or her own situation. Individuals with deeper questions regarding child support calculations can consult with their own counsel to find answers to their legal queries.