Child Support

Child support was once set by the judge without guidelines. In 1986 the federal government required each state to standardize child support. This means that if the facts are the same from one case to another, the child support should be the same.
Art Agnos spearheaded the legislation designed to be used statewide. It became known as the Agnos Act. The formula has undergone substantial changes since 1986 and has continued to change by legislation or case law.

An example of the formula is at the end of this brochure. There are three major variables in child support calculations:

  1. Dad’s net income
  2. Mom’s net income
  3. The percentage of time the visiting parent spends with the child.

For more information visit the California Department of Child Support Services website

Income is defined as including all income whether it is from employment, self-employment, dividends, rents, social security, or retirement. Net income means what’s left after taxes, deductions for health insurance and pensions.

The law also allows a deduction for work-related transportation costs for visitation.

Effective January 1, 1994, the new mates income (whether married or cohabiting) cannot be considered in the calculation. The exception to this rule is if the parent seeking support voluntarily decreases their income. For example, the custodial parent changes from a full-time job to become unemployed and seeks an increase in child support. The court should use the full time income if the change was voluntary.

There may be hardships allowed which effect support.


  1. Children from other relationships
  2. On-going medical (or psychological)  expenses
  3. Catastrophic loss (fire, etc.)

Other components of child support

Child care: Stanislaus County utilizes a local rule to require that the paying party must contribute to the cost of child care which enables the person receiving support to maintain employment. The division of the childcare cost is usually equal. Frequently, the custodial parent pays and then presents a receipt to the non-custodial parent. The court usually allows ten days for reimbursement. Some judges will not require contribution if a family member is providing childcare. There is no requirement that the childcare provider be licensed.

Medical insurance: California law requires both parents to maintain minor children on health insurance if it is available through their respective places of employment at nominal and reasonable costs.

Uninsured medical, dental, vision, orthodontic and prescription costs: A standard order is that each parent bears one-half.

Other Discretionary Items: Discretionary means that the court may or may not require child support for:

  1. Private school
  2. Extracurricular activities (football, baseball, ballet, dance, gymnastics, etc.)

Item not authorized by law:
            1.College expenses

            How long is the non-custodial parent required to pay child support?

            Answer: Until the child turns 18 or if the child is still in high school as a full time student and living with a parent, then up to 19

How to Collect Child Support

Wage assignments are required under current law. If the paying parent is self employed, a writ of execution can be served on a bank account.

Wage assignments can be sent from one employer to another if the paying parent changes employers.

If the paying parent voluntarily refuses to pay child support and has the income to pay, a contempt of court citation can be issued by the judge. The District Attorney may also prosecute under the Penal Code.

The penalty for non-payment is five days in jail for each payment not made. The penalty under the Penal Code is one year in jail, plus a fine.

The District Attorney Family Support Division collects child support at no charge to the recipient parent.

Child Support May Be Modified if the facts change. The facts may be: a change in the law which increased child support since the last order (this happened in 1992); payor’s or payee’s income changes; hardships arise; the paying parent has other children, the recipient parent has other children.

The courts use a computer program called “Dissomaster” to compute child support. Other computer programs are available statewide and may be found on the Internet.  Family law attorneys usually have this computer program in their office.
One child with 20% visitation

Husband’s income (gross) $3,000.00
            Net after taxes     $2,171.00
Wife’s income (gross)       $1,200.00
Net after taxes     $1,173.00
                        =$449.00 support

Parent frequently  schedule consultations to evaluate what child support should be according to the guidelines.  If you are in doubt about whether you are receiving the correct amount of child support or if you are paying the correct amount of support, please call the office and schedule a consultation.


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