Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada, LLP
Menlo Park
San Ramon

Normal support guidelines don't apply to high-income parents

One of the biggest mistakes high-income parents make when they get divorced is assuming that the normal child support guidelines will apply to them.

They often don't.

Parents in the midst of a divorce usually start researching California's child support guidelines or looking at the online calculator in order to determine what they're likely to have to pay. However, those guidelines are designed to cover the majority of cases -- not situations where the primary wage earner's income is significantly higher than the norm. In those situations, the formula could produce a monthly child support that vastly exceeds the amount that is needed -- or is even reasonable.

The court will consider a variety of possible "needs" your child may have in order to try to determine a fair amount of support. It's important to remember that the court will aim to preserve your child's standard of living no matter which parent he or she lives with.

Some things the court may consider reasonable in cases where a parent has a sufficiently high income include:

  • A nanny
  • Tutors
  • Music lessons
  • Sports lessons
  • Camp
  • Tuition for private school
  • Entertainment expenses

In many cases, when a paying parent has a high income, child support may end up increasing the standard of living for the nonpaying parent. That's not something the court will seek to prevent unless there's ample evidence that the nonpaying parent is using the child support as unofficial spousal support instead.

Child support isn't the only issue that makes high-asset divorce cases unique. Many of high-asset divorces involve complex evaluations of property, investments and business evaluations before a fair amount of support can even be decided. It's important to be prepared for a lengthy process unless you and the other parent are able to come to a reasonable agreement on your own.

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