California child support law views a parent’s financial responsibility to raise their child as non-negotiable. For this reason, child support is calculated based off a statewide, standard guideline calculator that seeks to determine child support in a way that reflects mainly two things; the income of the parents and their residential time with the child. The income of the parent is determined by taking the gross income and deducting certain qualifying expenses to come to an amount that is available for child support.
These qualifying expenses are, for the most part, similar to what you can deduct for income tax purposes. Your income for child support purposes will include, but is not limited to, wages, bonuses, tips and salaries, self-employment income, unemployment, disability income, taxable social security income, retirement income, rental income, regularly occurring payments/support from family and income-producing investments.
Self-employed parents may have a little more difficulty in determining child support. If you are in this scenario, it is recommended you consult with a family law attorney experienced in complex divorce financials. You may not be able to deduct all the qualifying self-employment deductions the IRS allows for income taxes so don’t rely solely on your tax returns to determine your actual income.
High net-worth divorces or those involving self-employment, business ownership or significant assets may require the services of a skilled attorney and forensic accountant to calculate child support accurately and according to the state standard. Spousal support, also called alimony, received is considered taxable income. However, child support is not. In general, the parent with the most responsibility for the child on a day-to-day basis, the one with the most residential time, will be in more need of child support than the other parent.
Often, but not always, this is also the parent who makes less income, as the responsibility of raising a child can be a barrier to employment. In the case of a non-working parent, income may be imputed at their earning potential rate. This is the income they could make if they were working. For example, if a parent is not working voluntarily, and the courts see no barriers to employment, income may be imputed for that spouse when determining child support. That parent will be responsible for any child support ordered based off of that imputed income, even if they are not working.
Are you in Los Angeles County and have questions about calculating child support? Fernandez & Karney has expertise in child support matters and experience handling complex divorce cases in Los Angeles County. Serving Los Angeles and surrounding areas, Mark H. Karney can efficiently and accurately calculate your child support amount. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Contact us through our online form or call us at 310-622-9434.