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California law requires Courts to adhere to statewide guidelines in setting child support orders, based upon the party’s income and other factors.

 Temporary Spousal support is also determined by guidelines based upon the party’s income.

  Longer term post judgment Spousal support is determined by agreement of the parties or by consideration of many factors, (not including support guidelines) after evidence is presented at trial.

Child Support Guideline Calculations

There are two purposes for using child support guidelines: (1) to provide for a minimum level of child support for a child; and (2) to provide for uniformity in the calculation of child support. In order to achieve these purposes, the guideline requires judges to follow its provisions, with deviations allowed only in limited and specified situations.

  • The guideline statute begins by setting forth the principles that are to be followed in its implementation. these principles include:
  • A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life.
  • Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children.
  • The guideline is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.
  • Child support orders must ensure that children actually receive fair, timely, and sufficient support reflecting the state’s high standard of  living and high costs of raising children compared to other states.

The guideline itself is a complex formula.  Because of the complexity of the formula, computer programs are used in order to obtain quick and accurate calculations.


To determine the child support guideline for a child, the following information must be obtained:

  • The gross incomes of each parent.
  • The percentage of time each child spends with each parent.
  • Any available income tax deductions that the parents can claim, such as mortgage interest.
  • Mandatory payroll deductions, such as health insurance, pensions, and union dues.
  • Child care costs incurred by either parent.


Once this basic information is inserted into the support calculation program, a guideline child support amount is generated.



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