Determining Child Support in California


According to California’s Family Code Section 3900, both parents share an equal responsibility to support their child in a manner suitable to the child’s circumstances. While both parents can make an agreement regarding child support, the courts are not bound by these agreements and can make an order that contradicts the agreement made by both parents. The court has the power to modify a child support order upward or downward.

The California Courts explain that a request for a child support order can also be made during these types of family law cases:

  • Divorce or legal separation;
  • A Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (for unmarried parents);
  • A domestic violence restraining order (for married or unmarried parents);


  • A Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children

In order to help calculate child support, the California Courts have a guideline that is used. The guideline looks at:

  • How much money the parents earn or can earn;
  • How much other income each parent receives;
  • How many children the parents have together;
  • How much time each parent spends with the child/children
  • The actual tax filing status of each parent;
  • Health insurance expenses;
  • The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs; etc.

A parent may request a change in the amount of child support for a several reasons, such as:

  • One parent’s income changes
  • The other parent’s income changes
  • A change in the amount of time that each parent spends with the child

Child support payments are usually made until the child turns 18, but a parent continues to owe child support for any unmarried child who is 18 and a full-time high school student who is not self-supporting. In this case, a parent’s obligation to pay child support continues until the child either completes 12th grade or turns 19, whichever occurs first.

If you have questions or concerns about child support, please contact Morales Law, P.C. for a complimentary consultation. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Factual circumstances will vary and require specific procedures. We are Santa Barbara Divorce Lawyers. This is for informational purposes only and should not be relied prior to, or in place of, consulting with legal counsel. Morales Law, P.C. can be reached at (805)-422-7966 or at