What Does Child Support in California Cover?

Child Support in California

Something I’m frequently asked about is child support in California. It’s important to know that child support is mandatory and there is  a guideline formula that is used to calculate how much the amount is. The formula takes into consideration the number of children, the amount of time they spend with each parent, and the income of both parents.  

Because it weighs in these different factors, there will always be a guideline amount of child support unless the parties share time 50/50 and make the same amount of money, which is rare. In some situations, the child support may be a very small amount and the parties may choose to not pay any at this time but there is still a guideline amount of support that is calculated.  

What Expenses Does Child Support in California Cover? 

Child support in California covers only ordinary living expenses for a child. Now you may be wondering what exactly ordinary living expenses mean. This means that child support in California covers rent, utilities, food, and clothing. Basically, the pieces that are necessary for a normal life as a child and what costs you as a parent more because you have a child or children. 

For instance, your rent or mortgage is higher living in a large place with children than it might be without children, and this ultimately leads to higher utilities as well. There are also additional costs for food when you’re feeding yourself and your children as well as over items that children need including clothing and of course diapers etc. for babies.  The child support calculator isn’t differentiating between the ages of the children for how much support is as there are different costs that are more for younger children and other costs that increase for old children.

Related Article: California Child Support Laws in 2024

What Doesn’t Child Support in California Cover? 

While child support in California covers ordinary living expenses, many other expenses are not included in child support and can be ordered to be split 50/50 or sometimes pro-rated to the share of income the parties have. This includes childcare expenses incurred by either party as a result of employment, education, employment training, or for any other time the parties both agree, such as summer camps (Family Code 4062(a)(1)). 

It also includes extra-curricular activities, such as sports, music, dance, etc. as well as school costs such as tuition if the parties have agreed on private school for the child(ren), school supplies, school field trips, and a child’s special education needs. Additionally, child support in California does not cover any medical costs not paid for by insurance (excluding the monthly premiums which is factored into the child support calculator) including co-pays, deductible, and prescriptions. 

Lastly, travel expenses for visitation with the noncustodial parent, if necessary are not included. Parents must specifically ask the judge to include these additional expenses in the child support order or have the costs specifically divided equally or pro rata.  

Mediation for Child Support in California

When you go through mediation with West Coast Family Mediation, we will accurately calculate child support and help you and your co-parent establish how other expenses will be paid. We will strive to predict possible future expenses and put guidelines in place so you and your co-parent will have a plan to resolve issues or conflicts as they arise.

by: Amanda Singer

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