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Child support and high-earning parents

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2022 | Child Support

Whether or not you can pay child support is not always an issue for parents – particularly for high earners in Los Angeles. For these parents, child support issues can still arise even when there is no doubt that parents can afford payments.

Is there an obligation to pay?

Earning a lot of money does not automatically make a parent financially responsible for a child. No matter how much you or the other parent of your child earn, you must determine there is a legal responsibility for child support.

This determination can involve opening a case and identifying the parent, which could require paternity tests or acknowledgment of paternity. 

It is also important to note that parents cannot waive child support in California. In other words, even if parents can both afford to care for a child, they generally cannot decide not to pay or receive support. This is because it is a child’s right to receive support from both parents, and waiving child support is typically not in a child’s best interests.

What is a fair calculation?

California laws state that “children should share in the standard of living of both parents.” They should not have wildly different living standards with one parent than when they are with the other parent.

And while child support guidelines are in place to standardize the calculation of support, they may not be fair or appropriate for high-earning parents. Following these guidelines could result in payments that exceed the needs of the child.

In other words, 17 percent of an average earning parent’s income is very different than 17 percent of a parent who earns millions of dollars a year.

Under these circumstances, you or the other parent can request a deviation. Deviating from the guidelines can be complicated, as courts will decide whether a parent’s income is indeed extraordinarily high – a definition that varies by geography.

Securing an appropriate support order

Calculating a fair amount for child support can be tricky, even when there is plenty of money to go around.

Whether you go to court for a ruling or you can negotiate the amount yourselves, parties must take this issue seriously and focus on securing an order that meets their child’s needs and is realistic for both parents.

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