Ask the County Law Librarian – Calculating Child Support
Q: My ex and I were divorced many years ago, when we were both working at different jobs than we have now. Teenage boys are very expensive, and more child support would really help! I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle of all the paperwork, though, if the support amount won’t change much. Is there any way for me to estimate how much the new order would be?
A: Typically, child support orders can be modified anytime circumstances change, such as unemployment or job promotion. If it’s been several years since your support was determined, and if you’re working at different jobs, it’s very possible that your support order can be modified.
California has a statewide guideline for calculating how much child support should be paid. These guidelines are outlined in California Family Code section 4055. The formula is fairly complex to calculate by hand, but luckily, the website of the California Department of Child Support Services has an online child support calculator to help you. This is the official calculator used by Family Court Commissioners.
The amount calculated using the formula or the calculator is only a guideline. The court takes into account many factors when determining child support. The main factors are discussed on the California Court’s Self-Help website’s Child Support page.
The family law Self-Help Center may be able to help you with your support questions. They can’t represent you in court, but they may be able to help you with selecting and completing the proper forms to modify your child support order. The Self-Help Center is located in Room 113 of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse and is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding court holidays.
Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.