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Legal Guidelines Concerning Child Support

By law, both parents have an equal responsibility to support their children. This is true whether or not the parties ever married. The statutory child support duty normally terminates when the child turns 19, turns 18 and is not a full-time high school student residing with a parent, gets married, becomes emancipated or passes away. However, there are exceptions.

The court may make both temporary and “permanent” child support orders. A temporary order usually issues early in the case and remains in effect until the final judgment of dissolution is issued, setting forth permanent support terms. In determining the appropriate amount of child support, all California courts must adhere to a statutory child support guideline, which provides a formula for computing child support. You can obtain an estimate of the amount of child support that may be ordered in your case by using the free online California child support guideline calculator provided by the California Department of Child Support Services. You can also download a 30-day free trial of the DissoMaster™ Program. After installing the program, simply choose the 30-day free trial option. The program can also calculate temporary spousal support based on the county selected.

Determining Payment Amounts

Parents may negotiate and agree to an amount of child support above or below guidelines. The court, however, retains jurisdiction to change the amount of support. The agreement is put into writing, usually in a Marital Settlement Agreement, which is then filed with the court and signed by the judge. It then becomes part of the final judgment of dissolution. If the parties do not agree, a court order may be obtained. To have a lawyer run a DissoMaster™ calculation, contact our Campbell office at 408-975-9500.

Modification Of Child Support

When either parent’s income or financial situation changes, or the custody/visitation schedule changes, a party may file a motion to modify a child support order that has already been issued. A modification may increase or decrease the amount of support. A lawyer can help you challenge a current order or defend against a motion that has been filed.

Enforcement Of An Order For Child Support

The state of California takes enforcement of child support very seriously. The Santa Clara County Department of Child Support Services in San Jose has lawyers that can help enforce an order for child support and assist the parent in collecting that child support. Their San Jose phone number is 408-503-5200. Their website:

Determining The Need For Spousal Support

In a divorce, the court may also make both temporary and “permanent” spousal or partner support orders. Spousal support is the same as “alimony.” The standards for temporary and permanent spousal support are different. In determining temporary support in a divorce, courts generally look to the needs of the party seeking support and the ability of the other party to pay. An order for permanent spousal support, on the other hand, requires consideration of a number of statutory factors, including, but not limited to, the earning capacity and needs of each party, the obligations and assets of each party and the length of the marriage.

Calculating Spousal/Partner Support

In Santa Clara County, temporary spousal or partner support is generally computed by taking 40% of the net income of the payor, minus 50% of the net income of the payee, adjusted for tax consequences. If there is child support, temporary spousal or partner support is calculated on net income not allocated to child support and/or child-related expenses. You can download a 30-day free trial of the DissoMaster™ program at The program can calculate temporary spousal support based on the county selected.

Contact Divorce Attorney Ann Wise Today

To schedule a consultation in our Campbell office, contact Wise Family Law Firm at 408-975-9500 or fill out the online contact form.