Child Support

What is “guideline” child support in California and how is it calculated?

California has a complex formula for calculating child support. The algebraic formula is called the Statewide Uniform Guideline (hence the term “guideline support”). The courts use a software program called DissoMaster to calculate guideline support. Except under a few special circumstances, the guideline amount as determined by the DissoMaster software is the presumptively correct amount of child support and child support should not fall below the guideline amount. The DissoMaster is used to calculate guideline child support for temporary orders, permanent orders, and modified orders.

Guideline support is based on the following policies:

  • Both parents have a mutual duty to support their children.
  • Guideline support reflects both parents’ incomes and timeshares (responsibility for the children).
  • Each parent pays for the support of his or her children according to his or her ability (that is, income).
  • A parent’s duty of support is according to the parent’s station in life. If a parent is wealthy and leads a luxurious lifestyle, the children are entitled to live the same lifestyle when they are with the wealthy parent and also when they are with the other parent.
  • Thus, support coming from a parent who has a greater standard of living may as a result benefit the other parent’s household.

Financial information for each parent is entered into the DissoMaster software to determine the guideline amount. The DissoMaster essentially follows the federal income tax return. The DissoMaster has numerous data inputs. While some inputs are not relevant to every case, the following are the most common DissoMaster inputs:

  • Number of minor children (required)
  • Timeshare percentage (required)
  • Federal income tax filing status (required)
  • Federal exemptions (required)
  • Income such as wages, self-employment income, other taxable income, and other nontaxable income
  • 401(k) contributions
  • Spousal support paid to other marriage
  • Child support paid to other relationship
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Itemized deductions such as property taxes, deductible mortgage interest, and charitable contributions
  • Required union dues
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • Hardship deduction
  • Child support add-ons

While the DissoMaster software effortlessly generates a report with the guideline support amount, the challenging work is in determining the appropriate DissoMaster data inputs. All child support cases are different and legal nuances are many. Contact the Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas for assistance with your child support matter. Ms. Thomas serves the Ventura County area, including the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Ojai, and Port Hueneme.


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