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Calculating Child Support in California

We use the California support guidelines as calculated by the Family Courts to determine your approximate child support payments.

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In 1992, the California legislature adopted an algebraic formula to calculate child support. It is based on the incomes of both parents and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

Most, if not all, judges and family law attorneys utilize the computer program called the "Dissomaster®" to calculate the support. The Dissomaster, among other things, calculates net incomes by factoring in tax deductions.

The algebraic formula is the basis of the Dissomaster. We have so many requests for the child support formula that we offer it to you here. Many of you who visit the site are techies, so you may be able to use this formula. If not, and you don't mind spending the $50 for the Dissomaster® report, we can do it for you using the computer program.

The Dissomaster is more precise and is the calculation recognized by the Courts. This formula, however, can give you a ballpark idea.

Here is the formula:

CS = K (HN - (H%)(TN)),



K = a factor of both parent's income allocated for child support. K will either equal (1+H%) or (2-H%) multiplied by the applicable factor in the table below. If H% is less than or equal to 50% then K = 1+H% multiplied by the factor. If H% is greater than 50%, then K=2 - H% multiplied by the factor.

K =
$801-$6,666 0.25
$5557 - $10,000 0.10 + 1,000/TN
OVER $10,000 0.12 + 800/TN

HN = the high earner's net monthly disposable income;

H% = the high-earner's approximate time of physical responsibility for the child (children);

TN = is the parties' combined total monthly net disposable income. It is important to note that the child support formula assumes one child. For more than one child, the following multiples are used:


If the formula yields a positive number, the high earner pays the low earner. If the formula yields a negative number, the lower earner pays the higher earner.


In addition to the basic support numbers, the Court will provide for

  1. The children's health care costs
  2. medical costs which are not covered by insurance
  3. child care costs that are employment related or reasonably necessary for the education or training for employment skills of a party;
  4. visitation travel expenses
  5. any special educational needs

Every case is different. You may be able to deduct some or all of the following including state and federal income taxes; FICA contributions, union dues; mandatory retirement benefits, disability and health insurance premiums and job related expenses. Child or spousal support ordered to a previous relationship may also be deductible. Other factors may enter into your case and your calculations so be sure you are educated about the law as it applies to your situation. Do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your personal situation.

This information is not a substitute for legal advice. If you'd like a more precise estimation of child support payments, please complete our Dissomaster package.

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L.D.A. #281, expires 4/15. We are not attorneys. We can only provide self help services at your specific direction.