Child support in California is calculated by courts using statutory guidelines as established by the legislature. The guidelines take into account the income of the parties and their expenses, as well as the number of children the person who is ordered to pay must support.

The courts believe that every parent of a child has a responsibility of contributing to their support, whether the child lives with them or not. Even a parent who does not see his or her child still has the responsibility of contributing to the child’s support and living expenses. Included in the calculation are such things as the provision of health insurance for the child, extraordinary needs the child may have and day care expenses in addition to the child’s other living expenses.

Parents are required to submit income and expense statements. The court considers the net disposable income of each parent. Income from most sources is included, including dividends, stocks, self-employment earnings and other categories in addition to wages from work. Affecting the calculation will be the relative amount of time the child spends with each parent. In addition to the guideline amount, which covers health insurance, medical insurance, food, shelter and clothing expenses, courts may also order additional amounts to help pay for the child’s extracurricular activities, transportation costs, child care and unpaid medical bills for the child.

Some people have the mistaken notion that if the child’s custodial parent refuses the child to visit the other parent, the other parent does not have to pay child support. This is false, and the parent needs to pay as ordered. Failing to pay can subject a person to legal consequences. In the event the other parent will not allow the paying parent to see their child, that parent can file a separate motion regarding custody with the court.

Source: Judicial Council of California, “Custody”, accessed on Jan. 12, 2015