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Dissomaster: It's Not a Kitchen Appliance

CA Child Support Guidelines

Jessica St. Clair, MS, MFT

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

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"I have to pay to pay what?" may be the question most often asked on the 5th or 6th floor of the Family Law Court. It is here that parents (mainly fathers) discover yet another "expense" involved in the dissolution of their relationship. Financially drained, emotionally distraut, and often physically uprooted, the next most often heard remark may be, "it's not fair". Fairness in life is largely subjective

In the Family Law Court, however, when it comes to determining the dollar amount for child Support, a computer program called Dissomaster® rules!

The law states that children must be supported and therefore, child support is mandatory. Prior to the late 1980's however, child support was largely at the discretion of the court, i.e., the judge would look at the income of both parents and make a somewhat arbitrary decision on who should pay and how much. With out many official or legal guidelines to follow, two families with similar incomes could end up paying considerably different child support payments.


In a effort to standardize payments a formula was developed, and with the aid of the computer Dissomaster® was born. Now, the amount of child support, as defined by law, is based on the dollar amount entered into the Dissomaster® program. The basic figures include: Dad's and Mom's Income plus child care costs; other expenses may also be considered (but not travel expenses).

Another important element in the formula is the amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren) For example, the more time Dad spends with the child(ren), the less he pays. One result of Dissomaster® appears to be Dad's wanting more time with their children -- money or love?

In divorce, everyone loses. Some parents quit jobs declare bankruptcy or find themselves living in rented rooms in order to support their children. In other families, children find themselves moving back and forth every few days when shared by their parents in a variety of creative ways. Is Dissomaster® fair? It may be better than "arbitrary", but who knows?

Spousal support on the other hand is more discretionary with the dollar amount based on "her" need and "his" ability to pay. Because in many families both parents work, spousal support may be for a limited period of time or nonexistent especially if the marriage was shorter than 10 years.

Prepared with the assistance of Commissioner Richard Vogl.

Reproduced with Permission from "In the Child's Best Interest", a newsletter promoting the child's best interests in Divorce and Custody matters.

Jessica St. Clair, MS, MFT, is a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor with over thirty years experience working with families and children. She is a therapist, credentialed teacher and qualified child custody evaluator. Jessica has worked with hundreds of families to prepare them for custody evaluations as ordered by the Court. Jessica is a woman of great empathy and has helped many children cope with the turmoil divorce creates in their lives. Jessica practices in Newport Beach and Santa Ana, Ca. She is the leader of Planet Divorce and Parenting Wizards, both joint projects of Divorce Wizards, Inc. and Newport Beach Family and Psychological Services. You may reach Jessica St. Clair at 714-568-1111 or

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