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Custody & Support Modifications

Child Support for High Income Earners

Like other states, California has Child Support Guidelines in place, and judges are supposed to use the formula prescribed in these Guidelines to calculate a parent's child support obligation.

In many if not most cases, the Guidelines ensure that a Los Angeles parent's child support will be a fair and reasonable amount that is consistent with other support orders across the state. However, there are some special situations in which strictly applying the Guidelines might not be fair.

In such cases, the law allows judges to deviate from the Guidelines, at least enough to account for the special circumstances of the couple before the court.

One such case is when a parent has what the law calls an extraordinarily high income. Lest one think this category is reserved exclusively for celebrities, wealthy entrepreneurs and even highly compensated business executives and professionals may qualify for this exception.

In such situations, the starting point is still the amount of child support that the state's formula calls for. However, a high earner may argue that, if applied strictly, the amount of child support called for would provide more than the money necessary to meet the child's needs.

In other words, even for a high earner, the point of child support is to provide for a person's child or children as if both parents were in the same home and meeting the needs of their child together. At a certain point, a child support order would not only do that but also effectively serve as a means of making the other parent wealthier.

The latter is not the purpose of child support, so a high earner is free to ask a court to limit the order to what is needed for the upkeep of the child. Having an attorney help with this process is generally a good idea.