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High-Income Earners

How Is Child Support Calculated for High-Income Earners?

Under California, there is no rigid definition to determine whether a spouse is an extraordinarily high-income earner. However, the family law court has to consider the geographical area where they live. For example, living in Los Angeles differs from living in other state regions.

While a $100,000 annual income seems high for most people in the state, anyone in LA will tell you it's a modest amount.  

The primary reason is that children have the right to share in the wealthy parent's lifestyle and standard of living. Thus, even though the guideline child support might be greater than their kids' needs, it's often not enough. The real issue is how much it exceeds their needs.

How Is Child Support Calculated for High-Income Earners?
The court can deviate from guideline child support if a parent has an extraordinarily high income.

Courts typically use the uniform California Child Support Guidelines set the amount of child support. They have a formula that is calculated (DissoMaster) that is presumed to be the correct amount.

However, in certain situations, the family law court can deviate from guideline child support if a parent can provide valid admissible evidence that using these guidelines would be inappropriate under the circumstances, as defined under California Family Code 4057(b).

For example, the family court could decide to deviate from the guidelines when the paying parent has an extraordinarily high income, and the amount would exceed the child's needs, as defined under Family Code 4057(b)(3).

Suppose a parent decides to pursue a downward deviation from the guidelines. In that case, they must prove that applying this guideline would be inappropriate and that the lower award is more consistent, as defined under Family Code 4053.

Every parent knows they have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their minor children in a divorce. The issue is typically how much based on the parent's circumstances in life. All California family court's top priority in a divorce is the children's best interest. Let's review this topic further below.

What is an Extraordinarily High Income?"

California Family Code 4057 is the statute that addresses extraordinarily high-income and child support deviation from the guidelines.

California Family Code 4057
Family Code 4057 covers child support deviation.

It says, "The amount of child support established by the formula provided in subdivision (a) of Section 4055 is presumed the correct amount…”

However, this statute provides an exception in subsection (a)(3) that says the following, "The parent being ordered to pay child support has an extraordinarily high income, and the amount determined under the formula would exceed the children's needs.”

An important note is that this statutory language is general guidelines, not a specific definition of a person with an extraordinarily high income.

Of note is that this law is a basic general rule, and does that specifically define how much income is considered extraordinarily high. So, how do California family law courts apply this general rule?  

A parent who is an extraordinarily high-income earner has the burden of proof and would have to request a deviation from the guideline child support. They would have to file a declaration with the court proving the following information:

  • The amount of their income;
  • Why their income is considered extraordinarily high;
  • How much child support if the deviation was granted;
  • How the non-guideline amount will meet the child's needs;
  • Why the non-guideline amount is in the child's best interest.

Their family law lawyer needs to include in their declaration specific family laws or case laws that support their client's position for reduced child support payments.

Put simply, the extraordinarily high-income earner has to challenge the presumption of guideline child support. This means they must show the judge evidence to convince them they should not follow the guideline formula.

Imputing Income in Child Support

A parent's child support obligation means there has to be an examination of their finances by submitting an Income & Expense Declaration (FL-150) with supporting documents.

However, a family court can consider other evidence to assign an income level to determine child support, regardless of the information on the declaration. This is called “imputing” income. Courts have the discretion to consider the following factors when imputing income:

  • A parent's earning capacity based on their occupation, skills, experience, education, age, and health;
  • A parent's willingness to work and find employment;
  • Opportunities to work in the current job market.

You can get legal advice from our certified family law specialist in Los Angeles.

Imputing Income in California Child Support
Contact our family law lawyers for help.

Many crucial divorce-related issues, such as child support and alimony, deal with finances.

If you are ending your marriage and have financial issues, you should contact our law firm to review the case details and legal options moving forward.

You need to understand that divorce is a series of compromises and negotiations. California is a “no-fault” state, and community property laws say that all assets and property have to be divided equally unless a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement says otherwise.

If you have questions about child support related to a spouse with an extraordinarily high income, contact us for a case review.

Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys who provide legal representation for families dealing with disputes, such as child support payments. We offer a free case consultation by phone or fill out the contact form.

Call a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer

Family law disputes have the potential to have a significant impact on your quality of life and overall happiness. As a result, it is critical for you to protect your rights to the fullest extent possible when involved in a dispute related to family law. The lawyers of Furman & Zavatsky have the skill and experience to resolve your case as favorably as possible and provide compassionate and understanding legal counsel and representation. We also offer flat fee legal services for divorce and family law issues.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles divorce attorneys, call our office today at 818-528-3471. Read our blog on how to prepare for your first meeting with a divorce lawyer.

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