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How Much Child Support Do You Pay in California?

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California family courts use several factors to calculate child support payments. You can use them to help estimate what your potential payments may be and make financial plans, even before the court makes any orders, to ensure your financial stability while making timely court-ordered child support payments.

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Child Support Payment Factors


California family courts look to your income before making any orders for child support payments. This is because family law courts are courts of equity. and the judge has the ability to make decisions on child support payments based on fairness. The more money you earn, the more you may pay in child support payments. The courts look at wages, tips, unemployment benefits, disability payments, and investments. They even can look at earning potential in its calculations. However, courts also take financial burdens such as tax liabilities, union dues, living expenses, and catastrophic losses -- for example, a large medical expense -- into consideration.

Custody Time Sharing

Another factor is the amount of time you spend with your children. The more time you have custody, the lower your child support payments become. since when you have custody you're the one spending the funds directly for their support.

Late Payments

Child support orders come with payment due dates. If you pay late,

the judge may impose up to a 10 percent interest rate. This interest rates covers all late child support payments and continues until you pay the past due amount. The longer you wait to get caught up on your payments, the bigger your bill gets.


California's government website has a child support calculator to help you estimate your potential payment amount before any support orders are given by the court. While every case is different. this can provide some guidance for what you might expect.

Requesting Changes

California family law courts give you the opportunity to ask for lower child support payments based on changes in your financial circumstances. Again, court wants to be fair and not order a payment that becomes financially impossible to make. As a result, you can petition the court for child support modification and ask it to recalculate your child support payments based on a lower income, loss of job, increase in custody time, or other circumstances that affect your ability to make payments. You and the other party also may come to a written agreement, known as a stipulation, to come up with your own new child support payment arrangement. Once agreed to, you can submit the agreement to the judge handling the case. That judge signs the agreement and uses it as the new child support orders.

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