California Family Law determines Child Support using a mandatory Computer Calculation Program, usually Dissomaster, that calculates child support amounts due to be paid to the primary care parent, after considering the incomes of each of the parents, any special needs of the child or children and the overall family situation. The Dissomaster Program is also used to calculate Temporary Spousal Support. California Family Law Statutes use a different approach to calculating Permanent Spousal Support. Permanent Spousal Support is discussed below, and is based on a multi-factor legal analysis. But the Court will consider, in deciding support issues, both the total picture on Child Support as well as the overall picture on Spousal Support.
You need to be aware that the Tax Treatment of Child Support and Spousal Support are very different. Spousal Support can be deducted from the Income of the Spouse paying Spousal Support and is included in the Reportable Income, for Federal Income Tax purposes, in the Income of the Spouse Receiving Spousal Support.
The Judge or Court Commissioner hearing the case has discretion to order a different amount than the Dissomaster Calculation under some circumstances. The court is most likely to enter orders that depart from the Dissomaster Calculation in cases where one or both of the parties have unusually high incomes, or where the child has extraordinary special needs. While the obligation to pay child support usually ends when the child becomes eighteen, there are special rules that extend child support to age 19 or High School Graduation in some circumstances.