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Child support is a legal obligation that ensures the financial well-being of children when their parents are separated or divorced. In California, child support laws are designed to prioritize the best interests of the child and establish a fair framework for determining financial responsibilities.

Purchases like gifts, clothing, etc., do not count towards child support payments, and regardless of the value or amount of items you purchase, you must adhere to your court-ordered payments. Below, we will provide an overview of how support is calculated in California and discuss why items you purchase outside your support orders do not count toward child support payments.

California Child Support Overview

The primary purpose of child support is to ensure the child's financial needs are met, regardless of the parents' relationship. It is intended to cover essential expenses such as housing, food, clothing, education, healthcare, and other necessities. Child support laws aim to minimize the potential negative impact of separation or divorce on a child's well-being by providing financial support.

How is Child Support Calculated in California?

California utilizes an income-based formula to calculate child support. The state has established guidelines known as the "California Child Support Guidelines" to determine the appropriate amount. The formula takes into account several factors, including:

  • Both parents' gross incomes
  • Any self-employment income, bonuses, or commissions
  • Tax deductions and credits
  • Mandatory payroll deductions
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Childcare costs
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child

Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support

Non-payment of child support in California can lead to significant repercussions. The court takes child support obligations seriously, as they directly impact a child's well-being. Possible consequences for non-payment of child support may include:

  • Wage garnishment. The court may order the non-paying parent's wages to be withheld to satisfy the child support obligation.
  • Property liens. The court can place a lien on the non-paying parent's property, such as their home or vehicle, to collect unpaid child support.
  • Driver's license suspension. If child support arrears accumulate, the court may suspend the non-paying parent's driver's license until they fulfill their financial obligations.
  • Contempt of court. Non-payment can result in a contempt of court charge, which may lead to fines or even imprisonment.

Why Purchases Made from Your Child Do Not Reduce Child Support Payments

It is essential to understand that child support is meant to cover the child's ongoing needs and expenses, including daily living costs, education, and healthcare. Child support payments are calculated based on the income of the parents and the child's needs rather than the specific expenses incurred by the custodial parent.

The reasoning behind not reducing child support payments for child-related purchases is to ensure that the child's financial needs are consistently met. Child support calculations already take into account the necessary expenses and adjusting the payments based on individual purchases would introduce an element of subjectivity and potential unfairness.

For example, if a non-custodial parent were allowed to deduct the cost of expensive gifts or clothes they purchased for the child, it could lead to discrepancies in support amounts between different households. This could undermine the purpose of child support, which is to provide stability and financial security for the child.

Moreover, child-related purchases can be subjective and vary widely based on personal preferences and circumstances. Some parents may have more financial resources to afford lavish gifts, while others may struggle to meet basic necessities. By focusing on the child's ongoing needs and using standardized guidelines, child support laws aim to establish a fair and consistent framework for financial support.

Have questions about your child support case or orders? Contact our La Mesa child custody attorney today by calling (619) 304-8499.