In California, the process is relatively straightforward; whatever was accumulated by the parties during the course of the marriage is presumed to be community property, including joint bank accounts, automobiles, real property that was acquired during the course of the marriage, and those items are typically divided equally. If one party wants to keep the house and the other wants to keep the savings account, they’ll figure out the equity is in the house, and divide everything accordingly. California is a very equal state, in that they ensure a 50-50 split of all marital assets and liabilities.
Child support is calculated the same way with a couple of differences, such as how much time the non-custodial parent spends with the children. If it’s less than 50% of the time, it will have a substantial impact upon how much the non-custodial parent will have to pay in child support. Again, California uses software to calculate it; the attorneys plug in the numbers and come up with a child support guideline amount depending on the earnings of each parent and the percentage of time the non-custodial parent spends with the children. Other factors, such as the daycare needed, with each parent expected to pay half of that.
Both parents generally have a legal obligation to financially support the children, from the time they’re born until the time they turn 18 and have graduated from high school, so the cut-off is usually either high school graduation or when the child turns 18, whichever comes first. In some cases, a child may have special needs, which means they need extra medical or other care, and the parents could end up supporting those children forever.
Child support can be modified at any time, provided the child hasn’t reached the age of 18 and/or graduated from high school. In California, it’s not the child’s fault their parents are divorced or the parents are no longer together. The policy of the law is that if the parents are doing better financially than when they first divorced, they can go back to court to get the child support increased to match the higher income. Likewise, if the payer parent becomes disabled and his income is cut in half, he becomes injured or ill or somehow becomes disabled, that, too, is a reason for the payer parent to go back into court and get a reduction in child support, so that he is not having to pay more than what his income would permit him to pay.
The amount is not doubled. In California, the amount of child support is proportionate to the chronology of the ages of the children. For example, if the parents have three children, the oldest child will get less than the next child and the next child will get less than the last child. It’s not an even calculation where, if you have three children and the child support amount is $1500, $500 is apportioned per child. There’s always more child support attributed to the youngest child than the older children.
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