What Is the Average Child Support Payment in California?

Child support is necessary for the raising and care of a child, along with providing for their basic needs, after their parents are separated. Both parents have an obligation to financially provide for their child, and support payments ensure that this happens. Parents who are starting a child support determination case often wonder what the average child support payment in California is. Because California uses a formula to decide child support payment amounts, it is useful to understand the factors that influence its calculations.

Child support agreements may be part of a divorce case, a child custody case between unmarried parents, or a paternity case. Whether parents decide the amount for support payments outside of court or not, the court must approve it. An experienced child support attorney who can help parents navigate a negotiation or court decision can make the process much easier.

Average Child Support Payment In California

Parents Deciding Child Support Outside of Court

Similar to other family court orders, parents can negotiate a child support amount outside of court. They can then submit this agreement to the court for approval. This enables parents to have more control over how child support is assigned.

However, because it is a court order that affects children, the court must find that it is in the child’s interests. Parents who create an agreement must still know the amount of support that would be assigned based on the state formula. Because the support agreement must be in the child’s interests, parents must explain why deviations have been made from the formula. An attorney is essential to creating an effective and fair agreement.

How California Determines Child Support

Child support relies mostly on the income of each parent, the amount of time that the primary custodial parent spends with the child, and the number of children that parents need to support. The child support formula in California is CS = K [HN-(H%)(TN)]. CS is the amount of child support paid to support one child. The components of the formula are:

  • K is the amount of parental income that is set aside for child support. This follows its own formula based on the combined disposable income of both parents and the time that parents have custody of a child.
  • HN is the net monthly disposable income of the higher-earning parent.
  • H% is the percentage of time that the higher-earning parent spends with custody of their children.
  • TN is the total net monthly disposable income.

The amount of child support for one child is determined based on these factors, but it can be more complicated if parents have different parenting time percentages with different children. The court or parents can also alter the guidelines if the child has extraordinary needs, such as high medical costs, which are not considered in the basic costs of raising a child.

Net disposable income is a parent’s income after state and federal taxes, along with other required deductions. If the parent who pays support has a net disposable income of less than $1,500, there is a rebuttable presumption that they should receive an adjustment for low income.

Once the amount of support is determined, it can then be multiplied by a set number if the parents must support multiple children. These amounts are listed in the law, and they range from 1.6 for two children to 2.86 for 10 children. If the final amount is a positive number, then the parent who earns a higher amount pays the amount to the lower-earning spouse. If the amount is negative, the lower-earning spouse pays the absolute value of the amount as child support payments.

However, this form of determining child support payments becomes inoperative in September 2024. It is critical to contact an attorney to determine how legislative changes may affect your child support determinations.


Q: How Much Should a Father Pay for Child Support in California?

A: A father should pay what is ordered by the court in child support if he is ordered to pay support. Both parents, regardless of gender, have an obligation to financially support their child, and either parent could be required to provide that support to the other if they separate. A parent with less custody, who therefore shoulders less of the costs of raising a child, often pays child support. A parent with a higher income may also pay child support.

Q: What Is the Minimum Child Support in California?

A: There is not a set minimum for child support in California, as it will depend on the income of each parent and the number of children who require support. Child support payments for one child are typically several hundred dollars, but this can change drastically based on many factors, including custody of a child, the income of each parent, and other unique circumstances. An attorney can help a parent determine what is a fair amount of support for their child.

Q: How Does California Calculate Child Support?

A: California law has a formula for calculating child support, which considers the following:

  1. The total monthly disposable income of both parents.
  2. The difference between each spouse’s net disposable monthly income.
  3. The difference between each parent’s time spent with their child.
  4. The combined total income that is allocated for child support.

The state child support law then multiplies the number obtained from the formula by a set number, depending on the number of children who need support. Each child support calculation will be unique based on these many factors.

Q: How Much Is Child Support in California for 50-50 Custody?

A: If parents have 50-50 custody of their child, child support is typically reliant on the difference in the parents’ income. The parent who has a higher net monthly disposable income will likely pay the other parent child support. That way, both parents pay a proportional amount for their child’s care. Often, although parents have 50-50 custody, a perfect split is not always practical, so one parent may have slightly more parenting time. This will also affect child support calculations.

Finding the Right Child Support Attorney

Child support cases can be financially stressful for both parents. Both want what is right for their child, and they also want to provide financial support without paying more than they are able to. A family law attorney who is experienced in child support determinations is essential to obtaining a fair child support amount. They can help find a number that covers the needs of a child without putting either parent in financial hardship. Contact The Goldberg Legal Group today to see how we can help you navigate a child support case.