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How is Child Support Determined and Ordered in Los Angeles and Orange County Family Court?

In California, child support is determined using a mathematical formula codified in Family Code Section 4055. The most important factors are the incomes of the parents. The next most important factor is the amount of time the parents have custody. Changes in custody time can sometimes result in changes in child support payment amounts.

Child support calculations are uniformly made using a computer program. The ones used in Los Angeles  and Orange County Superior Courts are called the Dissomaster and Xspouse. Both family law attorneys and the family court judges use the programs. While the programs take into account the income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the kids, the most important factor is income. If you would like to estimate child support payments, you can use the following information and calculator: https://childsupport.ca.gov/calculate-child-support/

Child Support Can Be Requested and Later the Amounts Can Be Modified

Child support can be requested and later a parent can ask that the support be modified– reduced or increased– by making a written request to the Court. This is called a Request for Orders and is made using the FL-300 Request for Orders form. This is the same form one uses to modify an initial child support order. The party must also prepare the FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration form which explains the financial circumstances of the parent. The request for orders and income and expense declaration must be served on the other parent and filed with the court. Use the Proof of Service form to show the court you served the other parent with the request for orders and income and expense declaration.

The court will have a hearing on the issue of child support and issue an order. Later, if the facts support it and you make a formal motion (A Request for Orders) to the court for a modification, you can have support increased or reduced. For example, if the parent receiving the child support inherits money, gets a large raise, or otherwise has an increased ability to support the children, support payments may be reduced for the paying parent. In contrast, if the paying parent loses his or her job, the court can be asked to reduce support during the period of unemployment or lower income.

Child support orders cannot be changed simply because one parent desires a change. A change in the support amount will be based on evidence proving that sufficient grounds exist to make the change. This requires a showing the circumstances have changed from what they were when the order was entered. In the many years a child support order remains effective, the parents’ circumstances may change many times and so may the child support order.



For law nerds, here is the law on changes of child support: Family Code Section 3651 governs the modification or termination of support orders, including child support. (§ 3651, subd. (e). As a general rule, courts will not modify child or spousal support unless there has been a material change of circumstances following the previous determination.” There are no rigid guidelines for judging whether circumstances have sufficiently changed to warrant a child support modification. So long as the statewide statutory formula support requirements are met (Fam. [Code,] § 4050 et seq.), the determination is made on a case-by-case basis and may properly rest on fluctuations in need or ability to pay.

And here’s the law for the determination of child support: The Family Code sets forth California’s uniform child support guideline. Family Code Section 4055 sets forth a mathematical formula to calculate child support that each trial court must implement. The support amount rendered under the guideline’s algebraic formula is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.