California’s child support laws hold both parents responsible for the financial support of their children. The obligation to pay for your child’s needs does not end with a divorce or separation. Parents who never marry do not avoid their responsibility to support their children financially.

To ensure parents provide for their children, California adopted statewide uniform guidelines for calculating child support. The state child support guidelines use the parents’ incomes and the amount of time spent with the child to determine their child support obligations. 

What is Considered Income for Child Support Calculations?

A parent’s income is calculated by deducting qualifying expenses from gross income. Generally, qualifying expenses are similar to the expenses you would deduct if you were calculating income taxes. 

However, calculating income for child support guidelines can be complicated. Situations that could require the services of a forensic accountant and skilled San Diego child support lawyer include:

  • Self-employed individuals
  • High-net worth couples
  • Business owners
  • Individuals with significant assets
  • Parents who voluntarily do not work

In these cases, calculating income for child support purposes could be challenging. For example, self-employed parents should not assume that their tax returns provide their income for purposes of calculating child support payments.

While many expenses might be deductible for tax purposes, that does not mean all expenses are qualified deductions for child support. Your income for child support calculations may be higher than the income reported on your tax returns. 

Under California’s child support laws, the following sources count as income when calculating child support payments:

  • Salaries
  • Wages
  • Bonuses
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Disability income
  • Social Security income
  • Income from investments
  • Rental property income
  • Retirement income
  • Income from self-employment
  • Any payments from family members occurring on a regular basis 

The above list is not an exhaustive list of income for child support purposes. Therefore, you should report all sources of income to your San Diego child support attorney at the beginning of your case. 

You do not want to underreport your income for child support calculations. Even an honest mistake can result in significant child support arrearage and allegations of intentionally concealing income from the court. 

How Does Timeshare Factor Into Child Support Obligations? 

The amount of time your child spends with you is another factor in child support payments. Generally, the parent who spends the most time with the child receives child support payments. Courts consider this parent to be the most involved in raising the child, and therefore this parent bears more of the child’s costs.

If the parent cannot work because they can’t find or afford adequate child care or the child has special needs, the court may consider that factor when awarding child support. However, having primary custody of the child does not mean a parent can choose not to work.

If the court decides that a stay-at-home parent has no significant reason not to work, the court may impute income to the parent when calculating child support payments. The court bases the imputed income on what the parent could reasonably earn if they chose to work.

Does Changing Jobs Impact Child Support Obligations?

Child support orders may be modified. The court calculates child support based on the facts at the time the court issues the order. However, circumstances may change.

A parent may receive a huge promotion that results in a significant increase in income. A parent may change jobs, which increases their pay level. On the other hand, a parent could experience a substantial decrease in income due to an illness, disability, or job loss. 

The court may modify child support obligations if there is a significant change in circumstances. A parent may petition the court to ask for an increase or decrease in child support obligations. Both parents have the right to appear at the hearing to present their evidence for or against the modification of child support payments.

The court decides whether to modify the child support payments based on the same factors used to calculate the initial support payments. If other factors apply, the court may consider those factors when issuing a modified child support order. 

Having sufficient means to support your child is crucial for your child’s welfare. Many parents are willing to pay their fair share to support their children. However, some parents may try to hide income or inflate expenses to lower their child support obligations.

If you have questions about child support or need help forcing your ex-partner to pay their fair share of support, seek legal advice from an experienced child support lawyer in San Diego. Having sound legal advice and support is the best way to protect your child.