Understanding how support is calculated can be difficult

California law requires courts to adhere to statewide, uniform guidelines in setting child support orders, but one thing that is commonly misunderstood is that while child support calculators use a specific formula, they are only as correct as the information entered into them. Unlike child support, where there is a standard formula, there is no set formula the court uses for spousal support, which is why spousal support tends to be one of the biggest sources of contention and conflict during a divorce. As divorce mediators, we can help you and your spouse better understand all of the factors that impact how child or spousal support is calculated and calculate it for you. We know there are many intense emotions involved in this process, and we will always ensure that both of you are comfortable with your agreement.

Child support only covers “ordinary living expenses”

Most parents want to support and provide for their children in any way they can. California law dictates that each parent has a legal obligation to contribute to the financial well-being of their child(ren). But child support covers only ordinary living expenses for a child. It does not include childcare, out-of-pocket medical costs not paid by insurance, travel expenses for visitation, extracurricular activities, or a child’s special education needs. These additional costs are typically split 50/50 between each parent unless they decide differently.

How a California Child Support Calculator works

Child support in California is calculated by a specific formula that takes into account each parent’s income from all sources, the percent of time spent with the child(ren), health insurance premiums paid, mandatory retirement, and other potential items that may or may not be present in your case.

It is crucial to put in the correct information to get an accurate calculation. Often, clients will come in with an entirely different number than we have calculated in mediation. After going through all the financial information, we discover that they either missed something or input the wrong information. The court will not file your paperwork if you submit it with incorrect calculations, which will delay your divorce. That is why it’s beneficial to work with us—as mediators we are experienced in preparing all of the necessary calculations accurately so that you don’t risk court delays.

We can help reduce your conflict and confusion around child support

When you go through mediation with us, 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. As your circumstances change, you may return to mediation as needed to modify any legal divorce documents.

Calculating spousal support is complex

Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, is often one of the biggest sources of contention and conflict during a divorce. This is due in part to the fact that it is much more complicated to calculate. Unlike child support, there is no set formula the court uses for permanent support. To give you an idea of what is taken into account when ordering spousal support, the courts in California look to Family Code 4320 for a list of factors. Not all may apply to your case.

These factors include:

  • Income of each party
  • The need of the supported party
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Marketable skills of the supported party
  • The ability of the supported party to find a job
  • Length of time the supported party needs for education and training to find a job
  • The length of time the supported party was unemployed
  • Age of dependent children
  • Assets of each party
  • Health and age of each party
  • History of domestic violence

As mediators, we can help you establish temporary support, and then discuss a fair and reasonable agreement for the amounts you will receive and the duration for which you’ll receive them. We are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to the legal basis for determining spousal support.

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