How Is Child Support Calculated?
Every county in California, including Monterey, uses the same factors to calculate child support. The two biggest factors involved are how much time the child spends with each parent (i.e., timeshare), and the net income of each parent.
If a child lives more with one parent, that parent is the “custodial” parent. The other parent is the “non-custodial” parent. In general, the non-custodial parent will be responsible for paying more child support. This is because the custodial parent is present for more day-to-day expenses. So, the court calculates timeshare percentage, and uses that percentage in its child support calculations.
To calculate timeshare percentage, the number of hours of visitation per year are divided by 8760 (the total number of hours in a year). That will give the visitation percentage based on yearly visitation schedule. For instance, a parent who sees their child one weekend per month has a 6.58% timeshare. A parent who sees their child two days every week has a 28.57% timeshare.
How does the court calculate monthly income?
The court uses all income, not just salary, in its calculation. Commissions, bonuses, rental income, unemployment or disability benefits, and interest payments are all “income.” For people with just one job and a consistent salary, the calculation is usually pretty straightforward. Issues come up, however, for people with varying incomes, where there are multiple sources of income, or where one party isn’t being straightforward. Consult an attorney to help manage complications. We explore a few common issues, below.
What about self-employment?
Self-employment takes many forms, from a business that employs 1,000 people, to a part-time gig cutting hair. For the purpose of child support, self-employment income is gross profits minus legitimate operating expenses. If income fluctuates from month to month, the yearly income, divided by 12, is used.
The total is not necessarily the amount from the Schedule C on a tax return. Certain expenses are not allowed, and are put back into profits. For example, if the business is paying for the parent’s cell phone or car. Large payments to members of the parent’s family are also a red flag.
A forensic accountant can be hired to go over the business records if there is worry about not reporting self-employment income properly. Self-employment provides opportunities to hide assets, so this is often recommended as a precaution. An experienced attorney can help you find this type of accounting expert.
What if the parent refuses to work?
What if my ex is hiding money?
All income should be reported to calculate child support. But that doesn’t always happen. Use an attorney to help find unreported income. Discovery can be used to conduct an investigation of accounts, and subpoenas can be issued to get to information that the parent does not disclose voluntarily. If necessary, an attorney can take a deposition of the other party.
If you need help determining the amount of child support owed, contact Cornwall Family Law. We have experience in child support calculations, vocational evaluations, and in the tools available to make sure that you pay or receive the right amount.