Calculating California Guideline Child Support
In order to create consistency with regard to child support awards, the Legislatures in California have created an algorithm that considers multiple variables in the overall calculation of child support. This algorithm is the heart of what is commonly referred to as the "Dissomaster", a computer program used by the Courts to calculate child support. When the Dissomaster fields are populated with respective timeshare and income information, the program produces a child support calculation that is presumptively correct. This means that no matter how low or high the support calculation, it will be adopted by the Court as the support figure, absent extraordinary circumstances.
While calculating the actual timeshare is a straightforward process, determining the gross income available for child support is routinely disputed.
Family Code section 4058 (a) states "The annual gross income of each parent means income from whatever source derived, including commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish child support." The language of this section makes it clear that income from just about any source shall be used in determining the gross income available for support. The child support program thereafter makes adjustments for the parties' state and federal income tax liability, several acceptable deductions, tax status of the parties, and the number of dependents.
Self Employed Parties
Determining the gross income of a party who is issued an employer-generated payroll stub is straightforward. However, when one of the parties is self-employed, a situation can result where true income is concealed or expenses are inflated in an attempt to lower the gross income available for support. Needless to say, such conduct presents challenges as California Family Code section 4058 provides "Income from the proprietorship of a business, such as gross receipts from the business, is reduced by expenditures required for the operation of a business." When such a situation occurs, the services of a forensic accountant may be needed to prepare a report for the Court that analyses "true" income available support. Unfortunately, forensic accountants are very costly.
Does the Income of a New Spouse Affect Child Support?
I am often asked if a party's new spouse will affect child support. The answer is no as California Family Code section 4057 states "The income of the obligor parent's subsequent spouse or non-marital partner shall not be considered when determining or modifying child support, except in an extraordinary case where excluding that income would lead to extreme and severe hardship to any child subject to the child support award."
When the parents of a child act in good faith to disclose true gross income, the calculation of child support is simple; however, many times a party will engage in conduct and tactics that will frustrate the process of calculating support and my require the assistance of a skilled family law attorney.
Our office is located in Santa Clarita, serving communities in Saugus, Canyon Country, Valencia, Newhall, and more. If you have any questions regarding divorce, spousal support, child support, premarital agreements, or questions about modifying a child support order, please call Eric Martinelli with the Martinelli Law Group for a free consultation.