California Child Support Calculator



Child support in California

In California, each parent is usually responsible for covering their child's daily expenses when the child is in their care. Child support payments serve to even out discrepancies.

If you're asking a judge to decide your child support arrangement, expect him or her to follow the state formula. Use the calculator above to see how much you will owe or receive under this formula.

If you are settling your case, specify in your parenting plan how you and the other parent have agreed to share costs and whether one will pay child support (and how much).

Large costs ― medical bills, school tuition, day care fees, etc. ― are not considered to be covered by child support and are usually split by parents evenly, if the parents have similar incomes.

Factors in the California child support formula

Child support in California depends on the following three factors.

Number of eligible children

Qualifying children in California must be under the age of 19 or still in high school. Disabled children who need to live with a parent past these limits may require support for longer.

Parenting timeshare

The amount of time you have your children, as a percentage. Calculate this using a parenting time calculator.

Parents' monthly incomes

This includes each parent's income from wages, unemployment, bonuses and dividends. You can subtract the amount you pay in income taxes, health insurance premiums, mandatory retirement contributions, mandatory union dues, alimony, and child support payments for other children.

Child support and parenting time examples

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month after deductions (listed above), while Mary earns $2,400 per month after deductions. They have two children.

Scenario 1

Robert has the children for 20% of the year, calculated from an alternating weekends schedule. He pays $816 in monthly child support to Mary.

Scenario 2

Robert and Mary decide to also alternate who has the kids for each major holiday. This raises Robert's time to 25%. Now he pays $750 in monthly child support to Mary. Annually, this is $792 less child support.

Scenario 3

They decide Robert should also have four weeks of parenting time in the summer. This raises his time to 31%. Now he pays $660 in monthly child support to Mary. This is $1,872 less each year than in Scenario 1.

Scenario 4

They decide on a schedule that gives them each 50% of parenting time. Now Robert pays $300 in monthly child support. This is $6,192 less child support annually than in the first scenario.

Sole vs. joint physical custody

California uses the same formula regardless of whether you have sole physical custody or joint physical custody. The parent who hosts the children for more time generally receives the child support.

Typically, the more time that parent takes care of the children, the more money he or she receives.

Calculating parenting time in Santa Clara County

Santa Clara Superior Court has a distinct way of counting parenting time percentages. Rather than using hourly breakdowns, Santa Clara assigns a predetermined percent value to common arrangements.

For example:

  • 3 days a week = 43% annual parenting time
  • 2 weekends* a month = 13% annual parenting time
  • 1 weekend* a month = 7% annual parenting time

*Santa Clara County defines a weekend as 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Santa Clara provides a full list of the percentages and definitions it uses, but judges don't always follow it strictly. Presenting a judge with a more precise percentage calculated with software may help you receive more child support ― or pay less. Ask your attorney if an instant calculation that takes into account every half hour of the year could help in your case.

Physical custody and child support

Courts handle child support separately from custody and visitation. You cannot refuse to let the other parent see your children as a consequence for not paying child support, and you cannot refuse to pay child support if the other parent won't let you see your children.

Don't guess or estimate your parenting time percentage

Estimating your parenting time can impact your support order by thousands of dollars a year.

Still, attorneys (and even the courts) usually estimate parenting time because manually calculating it is tedious and time consuming.

The Custody X Change app lets you quickly and accurately calculate your exact parenting time.

With Custody X Change, you can tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your time share. And you'll see how your parenting time changes each year due to holidays and other events.

Custody technology also prevents common mathematical errors, such as double-counting time. For example, if a father usually has the kids on weekends, and he gets visitation on Easter in odd years, Custody X Change ensures you don't mistakenly calculate the holiday as extra time for dad in those years (because Sundays are already allotted to him.)

Remember that a child support order is legally binding and must be taken seriously. If you fall behind on payments, you'll be charged 10 percent interest annually. If you are unable to pay, the court can require you to take steps like selling your home to come up with the funds. If you simply choose not to pay, a court can find you in contempt and even send you to jail.

Whether you are the one paying or receiving child support, make sure your parenting time calculation is exact. The number that will affect you, your child and the other parent. It's not a job for estimation.