Like other states, California uses a set formula to determine the amount of child support for which each parent is responsible.
The idea behind using a formula is to make sure that, for example, a person in the Livermore area pays the same child support as a parent similarly situated but in another part of the greater Bay Area.
However, the fact that the state uses a formula does not mean that child support calculations are always easy and uncontentious.
For example, the income of each parent plays a significant role in determining child support. Figuring a parent’s income, though, is not always just a matter of looking at the parent’s paycheck or tax return.
The definition of income is very broad and includes just about any money that goes into the pocket of a parent, including cash payments that may not be reported formally.
Furthermore, while a businessowner is allowed to deduct necessary expenditures, such as the cost of supplies, from her revenue, she may not be able to rely on depreciation and other items to reduce child support, even if these items are permissible tax deductions.
The bottom line is that parents will want to investigate the question of income carefully and make sure that child support is being calculated accurately and legally.
Courts may decide to consider a parent’s ability to earn income
Moreover, for a number of reasons, many parents may have the ability to earn more income than they actually receive.
If a parent feels that the other parent is in the situation just because he does not want to pay child support or for some other unjustifiable reason, the parent may ask the court to consider what the other parent could earn when calculating child support.
To give an example, if a person licensed as a doctor simply chooses to teach high school biology, the other parent may ask the court to calculate child support based off of a doctor’s salary rather than that of a teacher.
Whether a court will consider a parent’s earning capacity instead of actual income depends on the circumstances of this case. This option should therefore be discussed with an experienced family law attorney.