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Child Support: An Overview​

The biggest two questions regarding child support are, "What will I have to pay?" or "What will I receive?" The state of California relies on a statutory guideline equation when calculating child support. If you have children and find yourself in a dispute over child support, it is especially important to have an attorney experienced with utilizing and applying the statutory guideline equation.

Whether you are trying to obtain child support or defend against such claims, an experienced team at the Law Office of Channe G. Coles can help you understand your rights and how to protect them. By choosing the Law Office of Channe G. Coles, you will have guidance throughout the process and all of your questions will be answered.

What the Judge Considers

The amount of child support you are required to pay or receive, will depend on several factors used in the formula, the main factors being:

  • Gross income from all sources;

  • The number of children for which support is required;

  • Percentage of time the child spends with each parent;

  • Childcare costs;

  • Health insurance; and

  • Retirement deductions.


But the above are only some of the many factors considered when determining child support in California and will largely differ for self-employed persons. Courts will sometimes look at certain nontaxable income and gifts that can affect an individual's support obligation or the amount of support that he or she is entitled to receive. A comprehensive understanding of the above factors is necessary to ensure that the amount of child support calculated by the guidelines accurately reflects the true income and expenses of the parents.

At the Law Office of Channe G. Coles, we will look at all factors used in the guideline formula that is unique to your situation and give you an honest assessment of what your support arrangement should look like. We will also work to ensure that all of the other party's financial circumstances and assets are considered in the formula, including varying business income, overtime payments, seasonal work, and relevant “perks” of being self-employed.

Alternatives to High-Cost Child Support Disputes

Depending on the level of cooperation between the parties, pursuing a stipulated child support order outside of court will not only save you money but avoid the high emotional toll court battles can often take. By working collaboratively outside of court in applying the statutory child support guidelines, clients and their spouses can avoid additional attorney fees and costs incurred by expensive court appearances. Seldom do clients realize until it’s too late that fighting over small amounts in child support in court seldom outweigh the costs incurred in battling it out. Stipulated agreements can also allow clients and their spouses to bypass the state's child support guidelines all together and instead take a personalized look at the financial needs of their children and each parent's financial resources. The same level of attention and care is taken when inspecting finances for reaching a child support agreement.

Child Support Modification 

Although the child support amount is set by the court, the factors (or reasons) upon which it was originally based can change over time; a promotion or a new job that provides a higher salary, a layoff, a change in child custody arrangements—each can result in child support modifications. At the Law Office of Channe G. Coles we will analyze your current child support levels, and if need be, petition the court on your behalf to obtain a modification in the child support requirement which reflects the new situation.

A California child support order is only modifiable if there has been a "change in circumstances," since the last child support order was made. However, one caveat to this rule is if the judge ordered a child support amount below the guideline amount, a party can request a modification of this amount at any time without showing a change in circumstances. This is true even if your non-guideline child support order was reached by stipulation (agreement) between you and the other parent.

There are many good reasons why a child support order might need to be changed. Some of these reasons are:

  • The income of 1 or both parents has changed;

  • One parent has lost his or her job;

  • One parent has been incarcerated;

  • One parent had another child from another relationship;

  • There have been significant changes in how much time the child in the case spends with each parent;

  • The child's needs may have changed and there may be more (or less) costs for child care, health care, or education.


At the Law Office of Channe G. Coles, we offer experience and expertise in navigating these "changed circumstances," both from the perspective of the paying parent and the parent to whom support is paid, to ensure that the entry of a new child support order reflects a real change in circumstances (if need be) and continues to provide an adequate basis of child support.

To speak to an attorney at the Law Office of Channe G. Coles about child support, please call us at (805) 617-4618 for a confidential consultation. 


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