Who Decides on Spousal and Child Support Payment Amounts – And What Do They Base the Decision on?

In California, the judge decides on spousal support and child support payments in the courts. One parent will ask the official to make a spousal or child support order as part of the divorce case. The judge will then follow California guidelines to set the amount to be paid based on factors like income, expenses, and time each parent spends with the children. For legal help, contact an experienced San Diego divorce lawyer to help you with any legal questions or concerns you may have regarding spousal and or child support payments.

Knowing what the judge bases his or her decision on during a spousal or child support hearing will help you know what to expect when you go to court. In some cases, if you and your spouse can agree upon your own payment terms, a judge will allow your pre-determined agreement to take priority going forward. By learning the reasons behind child and spousal support, you can increase your chances of coming to a compromise that works well for both parties.

Factors Involved in Spousal Support 

Spousal support, or alimony, is different from child support. With spousal support, your money will go toward your spouse’s needs instead the children’s (though in most cases, these needs are interconnected). Spousal support is awarded based on:

  • Marriage length
  • Age and health at the time of divorce
  • Spousal income and expenses
  • Contribution of a spouse toward the education or success of other spouse
  • Standard of living while married
  • How much the spouse will have to sacrifice to care full time for children
  • Property or assets owned
  • Debts due by both parties
  • The children’s needs

If the court decides there is significant reason to award alimony to your spouse, you must pay the determined amount every month along with child support. California law will charge 10% interest per year on an overdue balance if you miss any spousal support payments. If you have the ability to pay but refuse to, the court can hold you in contempt. You may have to pay additional fines, and you could go to jail.

Child Support in California

Almost every divorce or legal separation with children requires a child support payment plan from one of the spouses. These payments are designed with the children’s needs in mind and serve as important financial support for the parent taking primary custody. The judge looks at the following variables to determine the amount of child support needed in a case:

  • Money the parent earns or has the potential to earn
  • Number of children the parents have together
  • Timeshare: how much time each parent spends with the children
  • Child support from previous relationships
  • Expenses such as health insurance, union dues, and retirement funds
  • Each parent’s financial circumstances and standard of living
  • Actual tax filings
  • Costs of daycare, travel for visitation, child education, or special needs

For an estimate on how much you might be ordered to pay in your case, you can use the California Guideline Child Support Calculator. Keep in mind that the court will take other things into consideration, and your specific payments might fluctuate depending on factors outside of the standard guidelines. Acquiring expert legal council is the best way to gain a firm understanding of your individual case.

Get Legal Help with Your Spousal or Child Support Case

Hiring an experienced child and spousal support attorney in San Diego, CA will help you understand the rules and regulations of your specific county. The San Diego child support attorneys and alimony lawyers at Boyd Law are experienced in serving the San Diego area with care and compassion. Our legal advice gives you straightforward answers to all your questions, and our trial lawyers can expertly handle paperwork and court negotiations if your settlement cannot be handled without court intervention. For more information, reach out to our team today.