Child Support

By Schonauer Law on Apr 07, 2021 at 07:20 PM in What Does it Mean

Child Support

The California family code codifies each parents obligation to support her or his minor child(ren) in a manner suitable to the child’s circumstances and the parents station in life.   The obligation to support a child is neither connected to marital status nor is it limited to biological children.  Additionally, the obligation is gender neutral and not limited to only two people.


Support may be provided to a child directly (e.g. food, clothing, etc.) or by the payment to another an amount the court determines is proper for child support.  When determining the amount of support, the court will generally look to the income of the parents, from any source, and the amount of time the child stays with each parent.  If one parent remarries, the court may not consider the income of the new spouse, but may take into consideration the reduction of expenses that come with commingling lives.

       Imputed Income

The court also has the discretion to consider a person’s “earning capacity” in lieu a person actual income as long as that discretion considers the child’s best interest. To exercise this discretion, the court must make finding of current ability and opportunity.

When imputing income, the court should consider a person’s ability to work (age, health .. etc.); a person willingness to work; and most importantly, the opportunity to work, which means the court must make a finding there is an employer with both a need and willingness to hire.

The most common form of imputation is minimum wage.  The court rarely does a detailed analysis when imputing minimum wage income.  A willing employer with a job opening can be assumed absent extraordinary circumstances.

Imputing income can be legally complex, and the court often skims over the most important and necessary part, identifying a willing employer in the area with an available job.  If you are at risk of being imputed income, it is important to consult with an attorney.

Amount of Support

Once income and time-share is established for each person responsible for support, the dollar amount of support is determined by a formula defined by law called “Guideline.”  In some situations, the court has the discretion to deviate from guideline, that subject is reserved for another day.