Money for a Spouse and Children
This child, spousal and parental (yes, parental) support page is about the duty of party to pay support for a parent, child, or (former) spouse, and how support is calculated in the State of California. Support may be garnished from wages, and ordered payable to the State Disbursement Unit. Child support is paid by a parent for the support of a biological or adopted child. The idea is that when a parent is not living with his or her children, that the children should still have support from that parent, even if that parent has some custodial rights. Child support is still payable when there is an income disparity and both parties share equal custody - despite a common belief to the contrary. Spousal support, is paid to a spouse, or former spouse, the ideal being that it is paid to enable that spouse to become self-supporting. Parental support is a duty adult children may have, to the extent of their ability, to support a parent who is unable to support himself or herself through work.
Both parents have the duty to support their children until they reach majority, or in some cases until the age of nineteen. A statewide guideline in terms of which child support is calculated is codified in Family Code Section4055. Various software applications are available, which generate a sum using the formula.
Calculating Child Support
To a large extent, support depends on the net monthly disposable income of the higher earner, the time that the children spend with the higher earner, and the number of children involved. The determination of child support in the State of California is done pursuant to a state wide uniform guideline, which is codified in FC 4055. Calculating support manually is time consuming, and courts typically use applications known as 'SupporTax' or 'Dissomaster.' The Family Code provides a presumption that the results obtained by using the formula are correct.
In terms of California laws, based upon Federal Guidelines, the court shall issue a wage assignment order. Once served, the employer is obliged to garish the wages of his or her employee, and pays this sum of support to the obligee, and in some cases to a county officer who will forward the sum to the other parent. A parent who willfully fails to provide for his child may be charged with a misdemeanor in terms of PC 270. Other available enforcement actions include citations for contempt of court, as well as collection proceedings. Interest on support arrears is the statutory rate of 10%. Interest significantly increases arrears over time, especially if the arrears accumulate throughout the duration of the minority of the child. The Department of Child Support Services plays a role in collections and enforcement of support obligations.
On separation, the spouse with the higher income may have to support the other spouse. This is called spousal support in California, and is often referred to as 'alimony.'
Calculating Spousal Support
Most courts allow the calculation of temporary spousal support by computer programs, but a court pursuant to FC 4320 should determine permanent spousal support. The Family Code lists many criteria courts should consider in making a permanent support order. These include the marketable skills of the supported party, needs of the supported party based upon the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the health, and age of the parties.
Period of Spousal Support
The general rule in California is that spousal support should be paid for half the period of the marriage. This is a rule of thumb, and should not be applied rigidly. Marriages that may be construed as long-term marriages, are specifically excluded from this general rule (FC 4336 - the 'ten-year rule').
Tax Aspects and Family Support
Receiving support on a monthly basis after the marriage has ended also has numerous tax implications. It is important that you discuss this with an attorney, who will discuss the option that you have with you. Spousal support is usually taxable and deductible. This is also true of Family Support. Child support on the other hand is neither taxable nor deductible.