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How Child Support and Spousal Support are Calculated in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Sep 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

When a married couple decides to part ways and file for divorce in California, a critically important issue that must be addressed before the divorce is finalized is financial support. In most divorce cases, the issue of financial support revolves around two different forms of financial aid – (i) child support and (ii) spousal support. Let's take a look at each.

How Child Support is Calculated in California

Pursuant to California law, there is a set of general computations that may be used by courts to calculate the amount of child support that must be paid by a particular spouse in a divorce proceeding. This computation typically consists of the following:

  1. Combining the earnings of both spouses;
  2. Deducting money owed for taxes by both spouses;
  3. Adding back any money for tax deductions;
  4. Allocating what remains between both spouses based upon how much time each spouse will spend with the child, or children.

If you are ordered by a court to pay a specific amount to your spouse for child support, please bear in mind that your child support payments are tax free. In addition, you will only be responsible for those payments until your child reaches the age of 18 OR graduates from high school when they turn age 19.

Along with monthly child support payments, you will need to be prepared to help cover an array of other expenses such as uninsured medical expenses, childcare or daycare costs, the expenses associated with extra-curricular activities, etc.

How Spousal Support is Calculated in California

In California, spousal support typically comes in two forms – (i) temporary spousal support and (ii) long term spousal support.

Temporary spousal support is typically limited to the period of time between the date you separated from your spouse to the date the divorce is finalized. A spouse usually pursues temporary spousal support when they do not have their own source of income (e.g., a spouse who focused on raising the children and did not maintain full-time or part-time employment outside the home).

When it comes to calculating how much spousal support is warranted in a particular divorce case, courts routinely conduct an analysis using sixteen factors. These factors include:

  • The respective ages of both spouses;
  • The health and physical status of both spouses;
  • The educational and professional backgrounds of each spouse;
  • The standard of living enjoyed during the course of the marriage; and
  • Each spouse's ability to pay and each spouse's need for support, if any.

A common question asked by clients about spousal support is, “If ordered to pay, how long am I on the hook for spousal support?” Here is the answer – as a general rule, if you were married for less than 10 years, then spousal support will typically only last up to half the length of the marriage.

On the other hand, if you were married for more than 10 years, there is no formal, statutory end to those support payments.

Have Questions? Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you are contemplating getting a divorce in California, now is the time to contact The Geller Firm. Our legal team stands ready and able to help guide you through the complexities of California divorce law. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud to provide legal services in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, and Contra Costa County, along with San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Pleasanton. Contact us today to schedule a confidential appointment.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of California.


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