Going through a divorce with young children can be a difficult time for everyone involved. This is especially true if you and your spouse are unable to get along to the point that you would rather have the court involved to ensure a fair child support and custody outcome for both of you.

Learn as much as you can about the process so you can plan for your future and the futures of your children.

Child support calculation

Child support is the monthly financial payment the court assigns to one or both parents to help pay for the children and their living expenses. In many cases, the court awards one parent more custody than the other, and the state includes the overall time spent with the children in the calculation.

A judge determines what that monthly financial obligation will be for the parent who spends less time with the children, based on state guidelines and other factors:

  • Parents’ net disposable income (after taxes and deductions)
  • “Time-share” with each parent
  • Medical insurance for the children

Payment exceptions

Everyone has a unique situation, so there are exceptions to the laws and general financial calculations you should take into consideration if they apply to you:

  • Insufficient payments: Depending on your situation, if the amount the court determines as fair according to state guidelines does not actually meet the best interests of the children, the court may make adjustments.
  • Extended support: If both parents decide that child support should continue after a child turns 18, such as through college or for other reasons, you can arrange this.
  • Living in different states: Parents living in different states can complicate matters. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act helps state courts cooperate with each other. Speak with your local support agency for more information.

Protect time with your children

California offers extensive resources that explain the details of child support and how to make changes in the future if your situation changes. Your county also provides a family law facilitator to help you with forms and to explain court procedures. If you expect your ex-spouse to be difficult in court, consulting with an experienced family lawyer can help improve the outcome of your case so it is beneficial for you and your children’s future.