Child support is the term that is used to describe the payments that are made by a parent for the day to day care and expenses of a minor child. A parent must file a request with the court for an order for child support in order to initiate the child support process. Child support is typically paid until the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is unmarried and still enrolled in high school full time in which case, child support continues until the age of 19 or until high school graduation, whichever comes first. There are some exceptions to these parameters, including situations in which children become emancipated (which ceases parental obligations for child support) as well as situations where a child is disabled and support may be ordered beyond age 18.
The state issues guidelines for computing support, which are updated periodically. It is always beneficial to have an attorney familiar with the issue to assist you when child support payments are being set. Although state guidelines are presumptive and in the absence of any argument to the contrary they will be applied by the courts, there are situations where there is some flexibility as to the sum awarded.
The best interests of the children are the priority in the courts as to any issue effecting children. As to child support, some of the critical factors that go into the determination of child support payments in California include each parent’s income and the amount of responsibility each contributes to the care and raising of the children; mandatory payroll deductions, for example union dues and retirement account deductions; the tax filing status of each of the parents; medical, dental, and other healthcare expenses and cost of health insurance premiums; costs of daycare; and, special needs for a child that may need to be addressed.