A question every parent wants to know is how child support is actually calculated in Sacramento child custody cases.  The answer to this question is both simple and complex.  In almost all Sacramento child support cases, child support is calculated by inputting the gross monthly income (before tax withholding) into the support calculator.  All sources of income must be considered, such as wages, tips, salaries, social security benefits, disability, self-employment income, interest income, investment/dividend income, etc.  Also, California law broadly defines “income.”  In some cases, income can include regular recurring gifts received from family members or friends or regular expenses others are paying on your behalf.

The Sacramento child support calculator also considers the percentage of time each parent spends with the child on an annual basis.  The court is required to estimate each parent’s actual time spent with the child when inputting this figure.  Many parents make the mistake of assuming that the court will just enter in the percentage their custody order says (the “on paper” percentage).  If one parent is not actually exercising all of their court ordered time, the other parent can convince the court to lower the first parent’s timeshare as a part of the calculation despite what the “on paper” percentage says.

The Sacramento child support calculator also includes a limited number of expenses in the calculation.  Examples of expenses the court will input are contributions to a mandatory retirement program, non-reimbursed employee expenses, and health insurance premium costs.  Examples of expenses the court will not consider are principal mortgage or rent payments, car payments, tax payments, food/gas/entertainment expenses, etc.  The court expects child support to be paid first before anything else is paid.

The Sacramento child support calculation is presumed to be correct under California law.  In rare circumstances, the court will deviate from the child support calculation.  These examples are narrow in scope.

If you are involved in a Sacramento child support case, and you would like to discuss how to best calculate child support and the possible applicability of any special circumstances to your case, please give our office a call.  We are experienced family law attorneys and we can help you identify important issues in Sacramento child support law.