If you’re considering a separation or divorce in California, you may be wondering what your monthly expenses and budget will look like after you separate your life and finances from that of your spouse. If you have agreed with your spouse that you will not be the parent with primary custody of your children, then you can likely expect to pay your spouse child support each month. How much that will be depends on several considerations and complex calculations. However, the final calculation of how much child support you will pay will always come down to the family court judge presiding over your case, making it very important that you have a good family law attorney advocating on your behalf.
First of all, the court will look at what percentage of the time that the child or children are with you, versus the percentage they spend with your ex-spouse. The greater the amount of time that the child is in your custody, the smaller the amount of child support you may need to pay, since you will personally be covering a greater amount of the expenses associated with your child’s care.
Second, the court will look at your financial situation, and that of your spouse, in fairly close detail. The court will look at your income, the amount of your mortgage payment, any benefits you may receive, as well as alimony or child support payments you may already be making to a different ex-spouse, and the costs associated with raising children from a different relationship who are in your custody. There may be costs that both you and your spouse share, such as child care, expenses for travel to and from visits, and school costs, which will also be added on to the regular child support amount in the calculation. The State of California offers a calculator in which you can enter these various figures to get an estimate of what your monthly payment might be. It would be helpful for you to first gather your most recent tax return, as well as any paycheck stubs you may have, and a recent bank account statement that will tell you what you spend each month. An attorney can help you negotiate certain terms with your ex-spouse to help the arrangement be fair and affordable.
If, at some point, your circumstances change (for instance, you take on a larger share of custody, your monthly income goes down, or your spouse’s income goes up), you can request a modification from the court in the amount of support you pay. Your attorney can help you plead your case for a change in the amount you pay in child support.
To ensure that you receive the best possible result for you and your child, seek out compassionate and experienced legal help with your California family law matter. Contact Andy Cook, San Diego divorce attorney, for a consultation on your family law matter, at 619-515-9900.