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California Child Support - General Information:

Child support is the amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay the other parent every month for the support of the child(ren). California has a formula (called a "guideline") for figuring out how much child support should be paid in all cases.

If parents can't agree on child support, the judge will decide the child support amount based on the guideline calculation.

The guideline calculation depends on:

  • How much money the parents earn or can earn,
  • How much other income each parent receives,
  • How many children these parents have together,
  • How much time each parent spends with their children,
  • The actual tax filing status of each parent,
  • Support of children from other relationships,
  • Health insurance expenses,
  • Mandatory union dues,
  • Mandatory retirement contributions,
  • The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs, and
  • Other factors.


Child support can also include the cost of special needs like:

  • Traveling for visitation from 1 parent to another,
  • Educational expenses, and
  • Other special needs.

Parents can agree on a "non-guideline" support amount if they:

  • Know fully their child support rights,
  • Know the guideline child support amount,
  • Are not pressured or forced to agree to this child support amount,
  • Are not receiving public assistance,
  • Have not applied for public assistance,
  • Think that the child support amount is in the best interest of the child(ren), and
  • Have a judge approve the amount of child support payments.

Parents must provide health insurance for their children if it is available for free or at a reasonable price through the parents' employment

You can ask for a change in your child support amount when there is a change in circumstances. For example, if you change the amount of time you spend with your child, you ask for a change in your child support.

If the judge ordered a child support amount below the guideline amount, you can ask to change that amount at any time. A change in circumstances is NOT required.

Court-ordered child support usually ends when the child:

  • marries,
  • dies,
  • is emancipated,
  • turns 18 and is not a full-time high school student, or
  • turns 19,

Parents may agree to support a child longer. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child that is not self-supporting

First - Start A Court Case:

To get support orders for your children, you, the other parent, or the local child support agency (formerly the district attorney) must first start a court case.

The kind of case you can start depends on whether or not you're married to the other parent.

If you are married, you must start one of the following cases:

  • Divorce (also called "dissolution of marriage"),
  • Legal Separation,
  • Annulment
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order
  • Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children
  • Local Child Support Agency Enforcement Case

If you are not married, you must start one of the following cases:

  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order
  • Parentage Case
  • Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children
  • Local Child Support Agency Enforcement Case

This section does not contain forms to file any of these court actions. You will find some of these in other sections of our free legal forms menu.

When Child Support Orders May Be Made:

Child support orders may be made at a hearing held shortly after the filing of the underlying court case and may be modified any time before the child(ren) turn eighteen.

Child Support Forms:

Description Form
Order to Show Cause FL-300
Notice of Motion
FL-301
Application for Order and Supporting Declaration (Family Law-Uniform Parentage) FL-310
Child Custody and Visitation Attachment FL-305
Temporary Orders FL-305
Income and Expense Declaration (Family Law) FL-150
Financial Statement (Simplified)
FL-155
Proof of Personal Service FL-330
Responsive Declaration to Order to Show Cause or Notice of Motion FL-320
Findings and Order After Hearing (Family Law-Custody and Support-Uniform Parentage) FL-340
Child Custody and Visitation Order Attachment FL-341
Supervised Visitation Order FL-341A
Children's Holiday Schedule Attachment FL-341C
Attachment Provisions - Physical Custody Attachment FL-341D
Joint Legal Custody Attachment FL-341E
Child Support Information and Order Attachment FL-342
Notice of Rights and Responsibilities - Health Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures, and Information Sheet on Changing a Child Support Order FL-192
Stipulation and Order for Custody and/or visitation FL-355
Child Support Case Registry Form FL-191
Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support FL-195
Additional Page-Attach to Judicial Council Form or Other Court Paper MC-020

- Gene Kinsey

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