Advocate Legal Centers

Child Support

Child Support

Child support is the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay every month to help pay for their child’s living expenses. California state law says that every parent has a duty to financially support his or her child.

The court applies the California Guideline Child Support Calculator to determine the amount ordered to be paid for child support. Child support payments are usually made until the children turn the age of 18, or 19 if the child is still in high school, living at home and can’t support themselves. Parents may agree to support a child longer. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child that is not self-supporting.

There are two types of child support orders – governmental and non-governmental.

Before the parents can address the issue of child support, there must be an underlying action. To obtain an order for child support, you need to have an active case with the court. If there is no existing case, you need to file one of the following:

Child support may be requested by either parent of a child, or by the person that has legal or physical custody of the child. There are different ways to ask for child support orders, depending on the situation. A parent can ask for child support alone, or as part of another family law court case, for example, a Divorce, or Domestic Violence case. If the parents of the child are not married, paternity (legal fatherhood) must be established before support can be requested.

If one of the parents has been getting public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF), or if a private case with the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has been opened, DCSS will automatically start a child support case against the other parent.

Caring for a child is the responsibility of both parents regardless of the custody arrangement. California provides mothers with the right to financial support for their children. Factors determining the amount of support include the salaries of each parent and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Mothers with primary or sole custody generally receive more monetary support than those with joint custody. For divorced parents, child support requirements are determined during the divorce proceedings and included in the final judgment/decree