Child and Spousal Support

Helping families determine fair support amounts

Part of the process of spouses separating their lives is working out how the spouse who was financially supported by the other spouse will be taken care of after the marriage is dissolved. This is further complicated when there is a child involved who also requires support from the parent who will no longer be a part of the household. These are challenging and potentially contentious issues that are an integral part of what we do for families in conflict. We are adept at helping families work through these challenges, either with a negotiated settlement agreement or at trial.

How is child support determined in California?

The child’s parents, with the help of a good child custody attorney, can agree on the amount of child support that the noncustodial parent will pay to the custodial parent. If they are unable to come to an agreeable solution, the court decides on the child support amount based on a statewide guideline calculation.

California state guidelines are based on each parent’s net disposable income and the amount of time the children spend in each parent’s residence. The law arrives at net disposable income by taking the total of all sources of a parent’s earnings and subtracting certain allowances, such as:


Mandatory union dues

Costs of raising children from a previous relationship

Mandatory retirement contributions

Healthcare premiums

Spousal support

The exact formula for arriving at the prescribed amount of child support is very complex, but the California Department of Child Support Services has a calculator that provides an accurate estimate.

What California courts consider when ordering alimony

In California, spousal support is awarded at the judge’s discretion. The court may order one spouse to pay a certain amount of money to the other spouse as part of the settlement agreement. Whether spousal support is ordered and how much the spouse will pay is initially decided by using a formula based on your local court’s rules. For the final decree, the court considers numerous factors, including:

The marketable skills of the supported party

The time and expense necessary to develop the supported party’s marketable skills

Contributions of the supported party to the supporting party’s education, training, career or license

The ability of the supporting party to pay

The standard of living established during the marriage

The duration of the marriage

The supported party’s custody and childcare obligations

The age and health of the parties.

Any history of domestic violence

Tax consequences to each party

The goal of alimony is for the supported party to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Determining spousal support is a challenging issue that your family law attorney will help you work through. Our law office also stands by you when you have an enforcement dispute or you need a modification to your existing support order.