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When divorce is on the horizon, your top priority is undoubtedly the welfare of your children. You want to make sure you can take care of them properly and child support will certainly be a factor.

Until you and your spouse decided to end your marriage, you probably never considered how the court determined child support. Will the amount you receive be fair?

Income-driven

Custodial support goes to the parent who has custody of a dependent child, whether that be sole, joint or temporary custody. The amount is income-driven, meaning that it is primarily determined based on the income of the parents. Under federal law, the definition of income includes all the income and earnings of the non-custodial party. Gross income usually refers to money from any source.

Sources for gross income

There are many sources the court could consider as associated with gross income. Examples include, among others:

– Salaries and wages, including tips, commissions, bonuses and profit-sharing

– Income from second jobs, overtime and contractual agreements

– Investment and interest income

Pension income

– Annuities

– Social Security benefits

– Veterans’ benefits

– Gifts and prizes, including gambling or lottery winnings

– Workers’ compensation and disability insurance benefits

The California calculation

In California, there is a specific calculation used in determining child support. This includes the divorcing couple’s current and potential earning capacity, number of children in the family, status for filing taxes, day care and health care expenses, mandatory retirement contributions, other sources of income and any existing support obligations. You know how much you need to care for your children. Will the final determination be fair? Keep in mind that you can petition the court to modify the amount you receive for child support if necessary.