Easily Calculate Your Child Support Payments In California

Child Support Payments Easily Calculate Your Child Support Payments In California

Easily Calculate Your Child Support Payments In California

Paying child support is an essential step in ensuring that your child can live a high-quality and comfortable lifestyle. The child support calculator California parents and social service agencies rely on is designed to establish a reasonable amount of support based upon each parent's circumstances. With this tool, the legal system can determine how much each party can pay for the care of a child without compromising their ability to cover their living costs.

Unfortunately, court-established support orders aren't always feasible or fair. This is when either party or the judge ruling on the case considers critical factors. With DoNotPay, you can take actionable steps to ensure that your agreement is a sustainable one. Using DoNotPay to demand child support or have an order lowered can benefit everyone. Any time a manageable order for child support is placed, children have a far lower likelihood of living in poverty.

How to Use the California Child Support Calculator on Your Own

Also known as the Child Support Estimator, California residents have access to the child support calculator that considers the same legal guidelines for support by California courts. Among some of the details that you'll be asked to provide when using this tool are:

  • The size of your household
  • Your income from all sources
  • The number of minor children you're already supporting
  • Any financial hardships you're currently experiencing
  • The amount of time that you spend with your child

And many others. The more information you key in, the more accurate your estimate is. This is also true when opening a case with the California Department of Child Support Services to either receive child support or have an order established for paying support. In addition to personal income-related information, custodial parents will additionally want the system to account for their:

  • Child care costs
  • Medical, dental, and vision costs for minor children
  • Costs for special needs

This tool aims to account for all income and qualifying expenses for both parties to distribute responsibility fairly. During this process, accounting for the amount of time that minor children live with each parent is key for ensuring fair distribution of financial obligations. You can access the child support calculator on the official website of the California Department of Child Support Services. It is an excellent resource for accurately estimating the amount that you'll be expected to pay or the amount that the other party is expected to pay.

Income Shares Model Calculator

For a rough idea of how child support is calculated, input your own information below to get a ballpark idea of how much child support may be owed in your case.

Step One: Identify Income

List the monthly income for each parent then calculate the total combined monthly income (I) then identify the percentage that each parent contributes to that value (p1 and P2).

Obligee/Custodial ParentObligor/Non-Custodial Parent
Monthly Income (i1)Monthly Income (i2)Combined Monthly Income (I=(i1+i2))
Contribution to Income Income (p1=i1/I)Contribution to Income Income (p1=i1/I)

Step Two: Identity Basic Parental Obligation

In order to calculate how much each parent would spend raising a child, use an expenditures table like the example below to list the associated costs of raising a child where you live.  Then sum the total expenditures (e) and multiply that by the number of children shared (n) for the total parental obligation (O).

Ordinary Expenses Associated With Raising Children
  • Housing: Rent, utilities, mortgage, property taxes, insurance, etc.
  • Apparel: Clothing, shoes
  • Food
  • Transportation: Finance charges, leases, gas & oil, maintenance & repairs, etc. o
  • Entertainment: Admission, lessons, activity fees, pets, toys, equipment o
  • Miscellaneous: Personal care, etc.
  • Education and Extracurricular Activities: Ordinary costs for education and extracurricular activities
Medical Insurance
  • Premiums
  • Dedicutables
  • Copays
  • Daycare
  • Pre-K education
  • After/before school care
Extraordinary Medical Expenses
  • Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses
  • Catastrophic illness or injury expenses

Once you have the sum of all expenditures, multiply that total by the percentage (as a decimal) each parent contributes to the monthly income in order to assign basic parental obligations.

Obligee/Custodial ParentObligor/Non-Custodial Parent
Monthly IncomeMonthly IncomeCombined Monthly Income (I)
%  of Combined Income (p1)% of Combined Income (p2)
Total Basic  Parental Obligation (O=en)
Obligee Parental Obligation (b1=O(p1))Obligor Parental Obligation (b2=O(p1))

Step Three: Make Physical Care Adjustments

Because the expenses of raising a child in two households are often duplicated, the basic child support obligation must be multiplied by 1.5 to account for the associated costs. Then, each parent’s proportional amount of the shared physical care obligation is multiplied by the percentage of time the other parent spends with the child.

The respective child support obligations are offset, with the parent owing more child support and paying the difference between the child support amounts.

Obligee/Custodial ParentObligor/Non-Custodial Parent
Monthly Income (i1)Monthly Income (i2)Combined Monthly Income (I=(i1+i2))
Contribution to Income Income (p1=i1/I)Contribution to Income Income (p1=i1/I)
Total Basic  Parental Obligation (O=en)
Obligee Basic Parental Obligation (b1=O(p1))Obligor Basic Parental Obligation (b2=O(p1))
% of Custodial Time (t1)% of Custodial Time (t2)Shared Physical Care Adjustment (A=O(1.5))
% of Custodial Time (t1)% of Custodial Time (t2)
Obligee Child Support Obligation (s1=A(t1))Obligor Child Support Obligation (s2=A(t2))Total Child Support Owed by Obligor (S=s2-s1)

How Are Child Support Payments Enforced in California?

There are many enforcement methods that the California Department of Child Support Services can use to ensure that non-custodial parents honor their child support orders. These include:

  • Garnishment of wages
  • Bank levies
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Passport denial
  • Property liens
  • Negative credit reporting
  • Lottery intercepts

And more. These actions are typically taken when non-custodial parents fail to pay child support for several months. In California, payments are handled through the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) and are often automatically deducted from the earnings of their payor. Actions are not taken to collect the monies owned in other ways until payments are missed for two or more consecutive months.

How a Child Support Case Works in California

Child support cases in California are handled in a 10-step process:

  1. Opening the Case: Under California law, either custodial or non-custodial parents can open a support case.
  2. Locate the Parent: The respondent must be located before an order can be established, or other actions are taken.
  3. A Summons and Complaint Is Filed: The parent responsible for child support will receive a Summons and Complaint.
  4. Establishment of Paternity: Parents who receive a Summons and Complaint about child support but do not believe that they are legally responsible for the child or children in question can request a proof. DCSS provides DNA testing for free.
  5. A Stipulated Agreement Is Created: When both parties can work together, they may be able to arrive at a stipulated agreement for a child support amount without taking their case to court or having DCSS establish a support order for them.
  6. The Support Order Is Filed: If parents cannot create a stipulated agreement for support, the case will be taken to court. The court will order support based upon the financial details supplied by each party.
  7. Payments Are Made or Received: Once support orders are in place, payments will be made or received by the respective parties monthly.
  8. The Order Is Enforced: If consecutive support payments are missed, DCSS will use multiple enforcement strategies to collect.
  9. Order Modifications Are Made: Child support orders remain in effect until minors reach the age of 18. In some instances, they may remain in effect until they are 19 if they are still enrolled in high school and are not married. If either parent experiences a change in income or household size, an order modification will adjust the amount owed to reflect these changes.
  10. Child Support Cases Are Closed: Child support cases are closed when minor children come of age, and all arrears are paid off. Both parties are notified of pending case closures, and cases are officially closed 60 days after receiving their notifications.

About the California Department of Child Support Services

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) supports the public through a network of 47 local agencies. The current director of the DCSS is David Kilgore. The DCSS offers an expansive online knowledgebase where you can get an answer to common child support questions such as:

And others.

Contact Information for the California Department of Child Support Services

Phone Number1-866-901-3212
General Mailing AddressDepartment of Child Support Services, P.O. Box 419064, Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9064
Mailing Address for Support PaymentsCA SDU, P.O. Box 989067, West Sacramento, CA 95798-9067

What Does Arrears Mean in Child Support?

Child support arrears or back child support represent your total unpaid child support amount. They also include any interest that accrues when this debt remains unpaid. If your minor child was in foster care or receiving public benefits when your child support payments were missed, these monies are considered due to the State of California. In these instances, aggressive enforcement measures are often used. In California, interest accrues on child support arrears at the rate of 10 percent per year.

Do Child Support Arrears Ever Go Away?

Child support arrears do not simply go away. These monies must be paid before your case can be closed. The only way to have arrears reduced or eliminated is by filing a request for an order modification. In some instances, arrears can be retroactively dismissed.

Demanding Child Support Payments or Having Your Child Support Payments Lowered

If you aren't collecting child support or if you've been ordered to pay more money than you can reasonably spend, you can contact DCSS to request an order modification. However, this process can take time. It can seem incredibly lengthy and frustrating if your current child support issues affect your ability to cover your minor child’s living costs. The other party in your case will need to be notified of the motion to modify the order through legal service. Both parties will have to submit current income information, and a new order amount will have to be calculated. Fortunately, you can expedite this process by using DoNotPay instead.

Demand Child Support Payments With DoNotPay

If you want to file a demand letter for late child support payments but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 3 easy steps:

  1. Search child support on DoNotPay and enter the details of the person who owes the payments.


  2. Tell us more about the payment schedule, including the amount and frequency of the payments, the last payment they made, the number of missed payments, and how much they owe you in total.


  3. Confirm your contact information and select whether you want us to mail or email the letter on your behalf. Choose how you would like to receive the payment and verify your signature.


Lower Your Child Support Payments With DoNotPay

How to lower child support debt usingDoNotPay:

  1. Search child support on DoNotPay and select the state your child support agreement was established in.
  2. Answer a series of questions about your current financial situation and your past payments to help guide the application.
  3. Confirm your current contact information, and enter the location of the county court that established your child support agreement so that we can mail your request on your behalf.

Why Use DoNotPay To Resolve Your Issues With California Child Support?

DoNotPay makes it easy to establish a good support order for your child. Whether you are the non-custodial party (payor) or the custodial party (payee). With DoNotPay submitting demand letters to lower support orders or to ensure that support is paid is always:

  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Successful

DoNotPay Works Across All States With the Click of a Button

Each state has different rules and regulations regarding child support, making the entire process confusing and overwhelming. Luckily, DoNotPay has child support guides for each state. Find yours below:

South CarolinaKansasNorth Dakota
Rhode IslandNebraskaMississippi
New MexicoOhioArkansas
New HampshireNevadaArizona
AlabamaKentuckyWest Virginia
Washington StateColoradoIndiana
CaliforniaNew YorkNew Jersey
FloridaNorth CarolinaWisconsin

What Else Can DoNotPay Help You Resolve?

DoNotPay can help you with all of your time-consuming, frustrating tasks. You can use DoNotPay to:

If you need help using the child support calculator California residents rely on or if you want to demand child support, get started with DoNotPay today.

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