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Long-time joint custody father wonders how child support works in California

Your Question:
Ok so my ex wife finally did it. She filed child support and medical insurance against me. Ex and I both live in California

My son turns 8 next week, we've been seperated since 1999. Everything was based on a mutual agreement. For the most part my son has been back and forth but mainly with me and my family. Ever since June of last year she got with someone and moved in with him. She then decided that she want to keep my son more. I've been paying 100% of my son's daycare when needed in the past of $400 a month. Her schedule is really random and doesn't have a set time b4. On days he'll be with us and others he'll be with his mom or her mom. Ever since The time she decided to take him home she asked for $300/month to pay for his expenses which I've been paying. Then she once in a while she asked for more money, to pay for his vacation with her which I give to her as well. I don't know how much she's making but I know she makes about 2/3 of what I make but she got fired from her job due to her attitude. lets say I make $3500/month and she makes $2k a month, there is no visitation set in the past (but I think it'll be set this time around). Say we get 50/50 visitation. During the course of the week, my son gets dropped off in the morning at school by her and I or my family pick him up in the afternoon. At night when she's off work she'll pick him up. During the weekends he's with his my ex's moother and on many cases he'll be dropped off at my parents (because it's convenience for my ex's family) where I'd come over and either takes my son or spend time with him there.

I wanna see what I'm expecting to pay for child support.

Also I'm filing out my income statement and it's asking me for my assets, I have quite some money in stocks and bonds and own 3 homes. All of these assets are new and was never there when we were married.... Will my asssets counts against me towards how much CS I have to pay?

What if the mother don't show up for court hearing as ordered?

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

Note that this post applies to California, with which I'm familiar.

It will be important to go to the child support hearing with strong documentation that shows how much time the child has typically spent in your home. The judge will estimate that figure, and you want to have convincing documentation, witnesses, or evidence that shows it's largely been 50/50.

The custodial schedule will NOT be ordered unless one of you moves for it.

I'd be concerned (for you) that your ex wife is going after child support, which means she wants money, which means she has probably learned that less time with you means more money for her.

Ideally, you may wish to try to settle this thing out, to nail down a written agreement that is turned into court orders, that specifies roughly a 50/50 parenting schedule, and throw her a peanut with slightly more than state guideline in child support. Then there won't be a future fight and you avoid court in this matter.

If she's not employed full-time and being supported by her new man, you may wish to request (via discovery) for her most recent IRS tax form for the year in which she WAS working full-time. Then you'll use that to ask the court to impute (i.e., estimate) her earning capacity at that amount, given that she's voluntarily under-employed.

You can expect the court to probably order you to pay half of daycare related to producing income.

You can expect the court to probably order you to pay half of the child's medical expenses not covered under insurance.

The court will order one of you to provide health insurance for the child. Whomever provides it will be able to deduct that cost from net income, for the purpose of calculating child support.

While your assets won't factor into the child support calculation, any income from them WILL. So, you own three houses, and I'll assume two of them are rentals. If you make money on the rentals (i.e., after expenses), that will get added to your income. If you have assets that generate interest (e.g., $100k in a 4% return), that interest will count as income.

The court will take your net income (after allowable deductions that are outlined on the Income and Expense Declaration), will take her net income, and will estimate custodial time in your home.

If you net $3,000 per month, and she nets $2,000 per month, and you end up with a 50/50 custodial time estimate, you'll end up paying in the neighborhood of $300/month plus half of daycare (related to income) and half of reasonable and necessary medical expenses.

That doesn't sound much different than what you've described, though after that court order, you'll tell her, "Sorry, I pay what I pay, and that's what I pay. Ask for more money from someone else."

And, she'll show up for the hearing. It's money for her, so she'll show.

Above all, don't try to defraud the court as to your actual income. I watched an attorney try to tell the court that his client earned next to nothing; and his two homes, luxury cars, and major assets were all owned by his corporation. Opposing counsel was asking the court to impute the guy's income at $300,000/year. The judge - peeved that he was being lied to - decided to impute the father's income at $2 million per year (i.e., equal to the net income of the corporation).


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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