In California child support is determined by a calculation we call “guideline child support”. Many litigants make the mistake of assuming that this issue is “cut and dry” because it is a formula. However, that is a common misconception. While it is true that the formula is always the same, there is significant variation in the inputs which can lead to a large gray area and areas of contention.
The Gray Areas in Child Support
The two most common things parents will argue about in child support is the time each parent spends with the child and the income of the other parent.
The Timeshare Calculation:
The correct way to calculate the time a parent spends with a child is to literally count the hours. Not the days, or the overnights or anything else- it’s the actual hours. As for time when the child is not with either parent, (for example the child is at school), the time goes to the parent who is primarily responsible for the child. Generally, that is determined by which parent would go to the school if the child needed to be picked up early because the child was ill. Which parent would drive the homework or the forgotten lunch to the child? The parent who would be responsible in the above circumstances is generally considered the primary parent.
The Other Parents Income
There are so many ways that the number for income can change or vary or be misrepresented. If a parent is a business owner there are many deductions a business owner can take that will reduce their income on their tax returns. That potentially presents issues for family law litigation. There are parents who have bonus income or overtime income, also presenting issues. There are parents who do not work by choice, but are capable of working, also presenting an issue about what income number to use.