California laws that apply to child support are anything but simple. If you’re facing a divorce and have children, you may have many questions about the mechanics of child support. In this blog, we’ll discuss five of the common questions our office receives about this important topic.
What Are the Most Important Factors in Setting Child Support?
Many considerations come into play in setting child support in California. However, the three most important factors are the parties’ income, the number of children, and the parents’ comparative parenting time with the children (often known as “time-share”).
All of the relevant factors are set out in law. However, the factors have been built into a computer program that performs the calculations for the court. Have you ever heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”? If so, you understand the importance of making sure the right numbers are provided to the court for input into the program.
What Is Included in Income for Setting Child Support in California?
One of the most complicated factors at issue in setting California child support is the parties’ net disposable income. Almost all types of income are included, such as traditional forms of pay like wages, tips, commissions, overtime, and bonuses, and other forms of earnings, such as interest, dividends, and rental income.
A few amounts are excluded from income, such as CalWORKs payments and supplemental security income (SSI).
In addition, the following items are deducted from gross income, such as these:
- Income taxes, both federal and state;
- Mandatory union dues;
- Mandatory retirement deductions;
- Contributions for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (known as “FICA” on your pay stub);
- Health insurance and premium deductions for each parent and any children the parent is legally obligated to support;
- Child and spousal support paid to a different spouse or child;
- Certain job-related expenses under California Family Code § 4059(f); and
- Court-allowed amounts for hardship suffered by a party.
Do California Courts Have to Follow the Child Support Guidelines?
Generally speaking, courts follow the child support guidelines. However, a few factors can change the amount of support.
For example, there are some mandatory and discretionary add-ons to child support. These include uninsured health care costs, certain child care costs, private school costs, extracurricular activities, and travel expenses.
Can a Parent Be Jailed for Failing to Pay Child Support?
Yes, a parent who fails to pay court-ordered child support can be held in contempt of court and even jailed. Criminal contempt of court is a very serious matter that places the payer’s liberty at risk. If found guilty of contempt of court for failing to abide by a court order of child support, both community service and jail time are possible consequences.
Does Interest Accrue When Child Support Is Not Paid on Time?
Interest accrues on any child support amounts that are not paid on time. In California, the applicable annual interest rate is 10 percent per year.
If you are facing a divorce proceeding, especially one that involves child support, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in difficult divorce proceedings. Call today to see how we can help you: (415) 293-8314.