Chapter Nine: How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined And For How Long?
A common question is how much child support will I have to pay or how much child support will I receive. In San Diego, the amount of the child support is determined by a computer program called the “Disso Master”. This will give a “guideline” child support amount and this is not based on fairness nor expenses and only the statutory factors which include [but are not limited] to the following as set out below. In this way, an attorney in their office can assist you in having a realistic expectation without any guarantees since the attorneys and Judge’s [in family law courts] use the same program. This program is different if the case is being heard in the Department of Child Support Services by state law however the amounts calculated by each program with the same factors are not disparate by a great amount.
To show the need to use the program, below is an excerpt of Family Law Code Section 4055 which is used to determine guideline child support. For child support calculations, the procedural posture of the case [pre judgment versus post judgment] is not a relevant factor as is for spousal support which is explained below.
Fam. Code §4055 provides the following and a full text can be found in the Family Law Code and this is edited for brevity
(a) The statewide uniform guideline for determining child support orders is as follows: CS = K (HN - (H%) (TN)).
(b) (1) The components of the formula are as follows:
(A) CS = child support amount.
(B) K = amount of both parents' income to be allocated for child support as set forth in paragraph (3). © HN = high earner's net monthly disposable income.
(D) H% = approximate percentage of time that the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent. In cases in which parents have different time-sharing arrangements for different children, H% equals the average of the approximate percentages of time the high earner parent spends with each child.
(E) TN = total net monthly disposable income of both parties.
(2) To compute net disposable income, see Section 4059.
(3) K (amount of both parents' income allocated for child support) equals one plus H% (if H% is less than or equal to 50 percent) or two minus H% (if H% is greater than 50 percent) times the following fraction:
Total Net Disposable
|Income Per Month||K|
|$0-800||0.20 + TN/16,000|
|$6,667-10,000||0.10 + 1,000/TN|
|Over $10,000||0.12 + 800/TN|
For example, if H% equals 20 percent and the total monthly net disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (1 + 0.20) X 0.25, or 0.30. If H% equals 80 percent and the total monthly net disposable income of the parents is $1,000, K = (2 - 0.80) X 0.25, or 0.30.
(4) For more than one child, multiply CS by:
(5) If the amount calculated under the formula results in a positive number, the higher earner shall pay that amount to the lower earner. If the amount calculated under the formula results in a negative number, the lower earner shall pay the absolute value of that amount to the higher earner.
As above, one of the benefits of having an attorney is that they will have the program so that obtaining the calculation does not involve you personally using the formula above which no average person can figure out how to use.
Another common question is how long will child support last. In San Diego, the Judge’s order child support in the following manner: 18 years of age plus graduates from high school or 19 if in school full time and not graduating from high school when 18 years of age except for special needs children.