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Support Links:
How to get an estimate of what amount of child support the court might order

Visit the California Guideline Child Support Calculator. This is a free, online calculator program provided by the California Department of Child Support Services.

Is my spouse's income going to be counted for child support?
The Court usually uses the parents' incomes only to calculate child support. But, the Court can ask about your spouse's income for tax or other purposes.

How do I stop my employer from taking child support out of my paycheck when my child turns 18?
You must file an Order To Show Cause to ask the Court to stop taking money out of your pay. If the Court approves, the Judge will sign a new wage withholding order for $0. You can take this to your employer.

Do I still have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?
If you make more money than the other parent, you may still have to pay some child support.

Will the Court consider that I have other children to support?
The Court can give you credit for other child support orders and for other children in your home that you support. The Court usually does not give credit for stepchildren, or grandchildren.

Will I pay less child support if I have the child(ren) more often?
The amount of time that the children are with you is a factor in calculating child support.

How long do I have to pay child support?
You will pay until the child is 18 years old, if he or she graduates from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student and still lives with a parent, you must pay child support until your child graduates or turns 19.

Do I have to pay the interest on past due child support?
Usually, the Court cannot reduce or cancel interest on past due child support. Talk to a lawyer.

How do I stop them from taking half my paycheck?
If your employer is deducting 50% or more of your check, you may have an arrears (past due child support) balance. First, contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) to see if you can make other arrangements. If that does not work, you can file court forms to ask a judge to set a payment that you can afford.

How to raise or lower child support

If you want to ask the Judge to change the child support (higher or lower), you have to file the correct court forms in your court case. It does not matter how old your case is. The law says you must show that circumstances have changed since the last order.

To change the amount of support, you can:

  • Contact the Family Law Facilitator/Family Court Clinic in Napa for help
  • Talk to a lawyer  - see information on local Bar Association attorney referrals and other legal help on the Family Resources page
  • Ask the Department of Child Support Services to help you
  • Do it yourself. You can buy a self-help book or legal forms and instructions that explain how to file an Order to Show Cause to change child support. You can get these forms on the Judicial Council's web site .
  • Contact the Family Law Facilitator . If you and the other parent have an agreement , or think you can make an agreement on the amount of child support, they can help you write up your agreement. (They cannot help you write up an agreement if the Department of Child Support Services is collecting child support in your case.)

How to reinstate ( get back) your driver's license (or other professional license)

If you do not pay court-ordered child support, your license can be suspended. To get your license back, contact the Department of Child Support Services. If that doesn't work, ask the Judge to order the Department of Child Support Services to give you your license back. To do this, file a Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial ( Form FL-670 ). Filing this form does NOT change how much child support you must pay. To change your support order , file an Order to Show Cause. 

Here's how you file your Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial.

  • Fill out the Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial form ( Form FL-670 ). Use the same case number and case title. You and the other parent will always be called Petitioner or Respondent as you were in the first papers filed.
  • Make 2 copies of your form (1 for you, the other for the Department of Child Support Services). The original is for the Court file .
  • Go to the Calendar window at the Clerk's office and ask for a date for your hearing. At the hearing, you will tell the Judge why you should get your license back.
  • Take your forms to the Clerk's office and file them. You will have to pay to file the forms. The clerk will tell you how much or you can look at the court's fee schedule - look for "hearing fees (first response)" on the schedule .

    If you don't have enough money to pay the filing fee , ask the clerk for an Application for a fee waiver packet.
  • Serve the papers
  • Get ready for your hearing - On the date of your hearing, you will probably have to wait a long time. Sometimes, it takes more than half a day. DO NOT bring children.

Reducing Support When Child Reaches 18

When a child reaches the age of majority (usually eighteen) or graduates high school, that normally is a basis for stopping child support for that child, unless the parent is obliged to help pay for that child’s college education.

Whether payments stop at age eighteen or at graduation from high school depends on the law of the state. Many states say payments stop at the later of those two events (assuming the child will graduate high school in a normal amount of time).

If only one child is the subject of a support order, the parent who is obliged to pay child support can stop making payments when the child reaches eighteen or graduates high school. The obligor does not have to go to court to seek permission to stop payments.

If there is more than one child who is subject of a support order, the right of the obligor to reduce payments when the oldest child reaches the age of majority will depend on the wording of the court’s support order.

If support is set at a certain amount per child (for example, “child support shall be $200 per month for each of the three children”), then the obligor may reduce payments by $200 as each of the three children reaches the age of majority. Under this example, child support would be $600 per month when all three children were under eighteen; $400 per month when the oldest child reached eighteen; $200 per month when the middle child reached eighteen; and no support when all three were over eighteen.

If, on the other hand, child support for three children was set as a lump sum for all children (for example “child support for the three children shall be $600 per month”), then the obligor must keep paying $600 per month until the youngest of the three children turns eighteen, unless the obligor goes to court and obtains a reduction in child support.

When the oldest child turns eighteen that can be a basis for a court to reduce support, but the court will not reduce support automatically. The court will look at a variety of factors, including the current income of the parents and the needs of the remaining children. If the income of the parents has remained the same and the needs of the remaining two minor children are the same, the obligor can expect that the amount of support for the remaining two children will decrease. The amount of reduction will not necessarily be one-third, however. Applying Illinois’ child support guidelines, for example, the obligor could expect that child support payments would be reduced from 32 percent of his or her net income to 28 percent of his or her net income.

Tread Carefully When Seeking to Reduce Support

When considering whether to go to court to seek a reduction in child support based on the oldest child reaching majority (or when seeking a reduction on some other basis), the obligor should consider how the guidelines apply to the obligor’s current income. If the obligor’s current income has risen significantly since the last order, a new child support order for two children may actually be more than the guideline amount for three children set at a time when the obligor’s income was lower.

To elaborate on the examples just given, assume that at the time of divorce five years ago an obligor had a net income of $22,500 per year. If the obligor had three children, and Illinois guidelines applied, the obligor would pay 32 percent of his or her net income for child support, which is $7,200 per year or $600 per month. Assume further that the court’s order (or the parents’ settlement agreement) provided that “child support for the three children shall be $600 per month.” Five years later, the obligor’s income has doubled (to a net income of $45,000). If the obligor now wants to reduce child support because the oldest child has reached eighteen, he or she could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

While it is true that a child’s emancipation (reaching the age of majority) is a basis for changing child support, the guidelines when applied to the obligor’s current income would actually result in an increase in child support. Applying the Illinois guidelines of 28 percent of net income for obligors with two children, support would now be at $12,600--an increase of $5,400 per year from the old support order even though there is one less child to support.    

Similar considerations apply to the parent to whom support is due. If the parent receiving support has had a significant increase in income from wages or elsewhere, that parent may not be able to obtain an increase in support even if the state’s guidelines or other legal principles would normally shift more of the support obligation to the parent receiving support.

Sometimes it is best not to rush off to court, even though one may be tempted to.

THIS WEBSITE and all of the materials and information on the Site is general in nature and are provided for informational purposes only.
Nothing on the Site should be construed as legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. The opinions stated in this site are based on personal experience.