Uniform Guideline Child Support
Each county within the State of California uses the same criteria for setting child support, such that it makes no difference in which county child support orders are made in any particular case, theoretically (although monthly expenses likely differ from county to county). Once the child support factors (i.e., the gross monthly income of each party, any expenses deductible expenses, adjustments to income, etc., tax filing status, number of personal exemptions, and relative amount of time each parent cares for the child(ren) as a percentage) are determined, each count’s family court’s will uniformly calculate and order the same amount of monthly child support using a state-approved software program.
In San Diego County, each family court judicial officer (whether a judge or commissioner), and each Family Support Division (FSD) commissioner, uses a software program called DissoMaster to determine the level of child support. The child support factors are included in the calculation, and the amount of child support for each child is calculated. Unless good cause exists to deviate from the amount of support indicated by DissoMaster (such as an extremely high income of one of the parties), the judicial officer must order that amount. The judicial officer has no discretion to do otherwise. Almost invariably, in child support (and spousal support) litigation the dispute between the parties is primarily focused on the current level of income or earning capacity (i.e., the level of income that the party should have if he or she were gainfully employed full-time), and the respective timeshare (i.e., the amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren) as a percentage).
(1) Income such as commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents received, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish a child support order.
Earning Capacity/Imputing Income
Exceptions to Income
Family Code section 4058(c) states that annual gross income does not include any income derived from child support payments actually received and income derived from any public assistance program, eligibility for which is based on a determination of need. Child support received by a party for children from another relationship shall not be included as part of that party’s gross or net income.
Social Security Derivative Benefits
Child Support Arrears/Priority of Payment
A child-support arrearage accrues interest at the legal rate, which is ten percent (10%) simple interest per year. In crediting payments toward any support arrearage, monies are first credited toward the current month’s support obligation. Any remaining money will then be credited toward the accrued principal balance remaining unsatisfied and then toward accrued interest that remains unsatisfied. (Marriage of Hall and Frencher, Sr. (2016); Code Civ. Pro. sec. 695.221.)
The DCSS link to open a DCSS case is here.