California Child Support Calculator


Not in California? Use your location's child support calculator.

Courts often use wrong parenting time estimates when calculating child support, which could make your child support either too high or too low.

Custody X Change calculates parenting time accurately, so your child support will have the fairest outcome for your kids.

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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, they'll follow the state formula. Use the calculator above to see how much you'll owe or receive under this formula.

If you're 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 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 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

Calculate the amount of time you have your children (as a percentage) using a parenting time calculator.

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.

Parents' monthly incomes

This includes each parent's income from wages, bonuses, unemployment benefits and investment dividends.

You can subtract what you pay in income taxes, health insurance premiums, mandatory retirement contributions, mandatory union dues, alimony, and child support payments for other children.

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Child support and parenting time examples

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

Scenario 1

Jamie has the children for 20% of the year, calculated from an alternating weekends schedule. He pays $1,306 in monthly child support to Mary.

Scenario 2

Jamie and Mary decide to also alternate who has the kids for each major holiday. This raises Jamie's time to 25%. Now he pays $1,200 in monthly child support to Mary. Annually, this is $1,272 less child support.

Scenario 3

They decide Jamie should also have four weeks of parenting time in the summer. This raises his time to 31%. Now he pays $1,056 in monthly child support to Mary. This is $3,000 less each year than in Scenario 1.

Scenario 4

They decide on a schedule that gives them each 50% of parenting time. Now Jamie pays $480 in monthly child support. This is $9,912 less child support annually than in the first scenario.

Missed payments

A child support order is legally binding. You'll be charged 10 percent annual interest if you fall behind. Plus, the court can send you to jail or require you to sell your home if you still miss payments.

You can't refuse to pay child support if the other parent won't let you see your child, and they can't refuse to let you see your child as a consequence for not paying child support.

Calculating parenting time in Santa Clara County

Santa Clara Superior Court has a distinct way of calculating parenting time percentages. Rather than count by hour, Santa Clara assigns a predetermined value to common schedules.

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 list of the parenting time percentages and definitions it uses, but judges don't always follow it strictly. Presenting a judge with a precise percentage calculated with software may help you receive more child support ― or pay less. Ask your attorney if it could help in your case.

Calculating your parenting time elsewhere in CA

Other than in Santa Clara County, California courts look at the total number of hours parents spend with their child in a year to set a support amount.

Lawyers (and even the courts) usually estimate the number because counting manually is time consuming.

But estimating parenting time can impact your child support order by thousands of dollars a year. The Custody X Change app lets you quickly calculate your exact parenting time.

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

You'll also avoid common math errors, such as counting holiday time as an addition to regular parenting time rather than a replacement.

Whether you are paying or receiving child support, make sure your California parenting time calculation is exact. The number that will affect you, your child and the other parent for years to come.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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