If you will be paying or receiving child or spousal support, you will need to complete Income and Expense worksheet forms, and this declaration will need to be served on the other party and filed with the court. We will provide you with these worksheets and instructions on how to fill them out when you come into our office. These are time-consuming to complete, but accuracy is very important. Support is primarily determined by the gross income of each party, the number of children involved, and the amount of time that the children spend in each parent’s custodial care.
In California, child support is calculated by a complex formula computed through a software program. We use this same computer program in our office. The court is obligated to follow the computer numbers; however, the variables that are entered into the computer are subject to the same evidentiary requirements as any other type of information. The most important of those variables are the relative gross monthly income of the parents and the percentage of time each parent spends as the custodial parent. In certain situations tax considerations can be utilized to increase the amount of money available to both parents.
Generally, the court has no power to award or change support for a period that has already passed. This makes it very important to act promptly if your financial situation changes. For instance, if you lose your job, we will seek a modification in support. If your spouse has been paying voluntary support to you without a court order, but then stops paying, let us know right away so that we can seek an appropriate order.
California law now provides that support is generally payable directly from the paying spouse’s employer. We can discuss this in further detail, if needed.
It is very important that you keep accurate records of the payment or receipt of support. We hope the log we gave you will help.
Spousal support is not calculated by computer, and relies on such factors as length of the marriage, relative income of the parties, marital standard of living, needs of the parties, health and age of the parties, etc. For other factors, please ask us for a copy of Section 4320 of the Family Code.