Child Support

Factors in Determining


In San Diego, the amount of child support is set by statewide guidelines based on the time each parent has charge of the child, which can include times the child is in school or daycare and each parent’s gross monthly income. Time with a child may be set by the court or by the parents’ agreement. In determining child support higher end cases, the court may consider the special needs of the child, which could include private school, and activities in which the child has taken part for a significant time, like dance. Thus, in San Diego child support matters the court will consider the following in making a child support order:

  • Each parent’s gross income from employment
  • Each parent’s income from passive investments, including interest and dividend income
  • Other sources of money (including regular gifts or loans from family members)
  • The number of children
  • The time the children spend with each parent
  • Other children supported by the payor parent
  • The special needs of the children

Both parents have a fundamental responsibility to provide for their children according to their station in life. Accordingly, while it is important that the child’s basic needs are met in both households, child support may go well beyond those needs if the parents can afford to do so. Schaffer Family Law Group works with San Diego families to ensure you receive the child support appropriate for your unique family situation.

Unemployed and Underemployed


In certain child support situations, if it is in the best interest of the child, a court may assign or “impute” income to a parent who is not working or not working up to the parent’s earning capacity so that child support is calculated based on income that this parent does not actually earn, but with reasonable effort, could earn. In these instances, the parent who is asking the court to impute income to the other parent must demonstrate that the other parent has the ability to earn more money than he or she is currently earning and that there is a reasonable opportunity for the other parent to do so. Schaffer Family Law Group often retains vocational evaluators in these types of San Diego child support cases to demonstrate to the court what the other parent should be earning so that the court can make a fair child support order.

Inconsistent Income

Some parents receive overtime or bonuses or are paid on a commission basis such that their income fluctuates, either seasonally or sometimes annually, or they receive stock options or restricted stock units periodically. We are experienced in obtaining the appropriate amount of child support using different methods in these situations.

Child Support Duration

In most circumstances in San Diego child support matters, child support is payable until the child is 18 and graduated from high school or turns 19, or marries or becomes emancipated. Although the parents may agree to share the cost of college education, in California, a court cannot order a parent to do so. However, where parents enter into an agreement that they will share the cost of college or graduate school, the court may enforce the agreement.

Your Child’s Best Interest


It is in your best interest, and more importantly, your child’s best interest, to work with a qualified and experienced San Diego family law attorney to establish, enforce or modify, a child support order, especially when the total amount of a parent’s income is in question. The Schaffer Family Law Group will work with you to obtain appropriate child support throughout the support period, and will help modify or challenge an existing child support order if circumstances change.