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Understanding the basics behind child support laws and guidelines

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Family Law

Our readers in California probably know that the legal term “child support” refers to the amount of money that one parent pays to the other. But, even with this basic definition, child support can be a complicated legal issue for parents, regardless of whether those parents were ever married to each other or not.

Understanding the basics about child support laws and guidelines can help parents in California to be prepared for how their child support dispute might be resolved.

Child support basics

No two child support orders are the same. So, whatever you might have heard about another person’s child support order probably won’t apply word-for-word in your unique situation. This is because when family law courts are determining the appropriate amount of child support they use a wide variety of factors.

Some examples of those factors are: how many children will be part of the overall child support order; how much time the parents spend with the children; each parent’s income; and each child’s specific financial needs. Quite clearly, these factors will vary in every situation, and other factors might apply as well.

From a legal standpoint, child support is not an obligation that exists forever. In general, once the child is considered an adult – and that could be determined through various changes in status – the obligation to pay child support ends. And, of course, your obligation to pay child support is limited only to your biological children.

If you are in the middle of a child support dispute in California, be sure to understand how the court will attempt to calculate the amount to be paid, and why. Child support orders are an important piece of the financial puzzle for the parent who must pay it and the parent who will receive it alike.