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What is the purpose of child support?

Hermosa Beach, CA |

Are there general or specific expenses for which child support should be delineated? My ex makes about 5 times as much as I do and we live in an affluent area where extracurricular expenses are frequent and expensive. I went back to school trying to afford myself a better lifestyle/income and am about 1 yr away from my PhD. I do not make enough to live like everyone else and pay 50% of the children's activites (like Science Camp $500 per child). My ex has paid for these things so that the kids can participate because he can easily. I can't. I don't take many vacations (except staying with family or camping), don't go out to dinner often, etc. ... because I can't afford it. He thinks he pays me enough for that money to go for those items.

Thanks for answering. My ex (yes married, div 11 yrs) in the past paid for these expenses including health. Our CS (family support) was determined by us, somewhat influenced by the disso, but I’m fearful that running the disso might result in a lower amt because HE believes my inc should reflect/imput that I SHOULD be making more. I think he can alter his numbers (self-emp & runs the family co) I too am self-emp (tennis pro). He's paid for extras in the past, but now wants me to, thinks that’s what its for & I should be making more or he wants to include it in family support. I contend with the poor econ, my health exp, & still working on my phd that I could be doing worse. The CS helps with all exp that support me to support them: rent (very expensive), car & related, food, house bills, I pay for what I can (clothes, shoes, smaller school stuff, birthday parties, etc.) & that I cant be expected to pay more or incur add'l tax exp til I finish my phd.

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Attorney answers 1


As far as general expenses for child support, you likely know that in California, child support is determined using a software program such as DissoMaster or Xspouse. Absent specific circumstances, such as when the individual paying child support is an extraordinarily high wage earner, child support will be determined by this computer program. The resulting child support payment is presumed to cover the general expenses of the children during the time period you have the children in your care.

As to specific expenses, the court must order the parents to share the cost of childcare to allow you to work, if child care expenses are incurred, and the court must order the parents to share the cost of the children’s health related expenses that are not covered by insurance.

In addition, the court may order the parents to share the cost of extracurricular expenses and/or tuition, but is not required to do so.

Your paragraph seems to say that your ex has paid the children’s extracurricular activities, so I won’t focus on that aspect specific aspect of child support. What I am picking up from your question is that you are having a tough time paying the expenses of your children, and your personal expenses, with the amount of child support your ex is providing. I cannot determine through your written paragraph whether you and your “ex” were married, or not, but your statement that you “don’t take many vacations, don’t go out to dinner often, etc.... because [you] can’t afford it” causes me to think of spousal support as opposed to child support. Have you explored that avenue?

Other issues are raised by this paragraph – for example, was your current child support payment determined by the court, or did you and your ex reach an agreement about support in some other manner? Are you actually receiving “guideline support” or some lesser amount?

If you and your ex are both W-2 wage earners, and your ex is unwilling to provide more support than is required by the guideline, you may have to live as you are until you receive your PhD and are able to work full time. This is why the steps you have taken to avoid any future reliance on your ex’s payment of support -- i.e., obtaining your PhD -- is so important.

Please give me more information about your particular situation so I can better answer your question.