In California, the Court's use the mandatory state guidelines for child support in determining the amount of child support each month. Child support is based upon the state wide guidelines. In part, the Court's are ordered to follow this guideline unless there is a motion for deviation which is not common. If you think you have facts which support a deviation from the guideline amount, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney. A parent's first and principal obligation is the support his or her minor children according to the parent's circumstances and station in life as embodied in the statutes. In addition, both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children. The actual guideline calculation can be found in Family Code Section 4055 and is an algebraic formula. The most accurate way to calculate is on the Disso Master program which most family law attorneys have in their office. There is a very complicated program and requires training in its use. One of the purposes of the guideline amount is to seek to encourage fair and efficient settlements of conflicts between parents and to minimize the need for litigation. The guideline is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.
One issue which comes up are the treatment of hardship deductions. Under the law, the Court is permitted to consider "extreme financial hardships" however these are very limited. Examples of hardship deductions are as follows: extraordinary healthcare expenses; uninsured catastrophic losses [one example would be if your house burned down during the recent fires and you did not have insurance or enough insurance]; expenses recognized in published appellate decisions or the minimum basis living expenses of natural or adoptive children residing with the parent who has the support obligation. In California, these hardships are treated differently by each individual Judge and the granting of a hardship normally requires a motion, points and authorities in support of the motion, a declaration and documentation. If the hardship deduction is due to the basic living expenses of other children living with the parent, then the rule is that this deduction cannot exceed the support allocated to each child subject to the child support order. The Court must also make either a written or oral finding stating the reasons for the hardship deduction as well as some other factors. This is, as can be seen, a very complicated area of the law.
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Law Offices of M. Teri Lim and Associates
3701 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1025
Los Angeles, CA 90010