Child Support in High Income Families

Jan 8, 2021 Child Support

California law determines child support based on a set of statutory guidelines that provide a formula for how payments need to be calculated. This formula considers each parent’s income, the number of children, and the proposed arrangement for sharing custody and visitation. While the formula will be the primary method of calculating child support payments, the court does recognize that differences occur when one parent has an extraordinarily high income. However, courts are hesitant to award more than what’s needed for the children to continue their lifestyle – which is why it’s crucial to hire an Irvine child support lawyer with experience in representing high-income families. It’s important to balance what the children actually need against what a former spouse might feel is appropriate – or necessary – to maintain their upscale lifestyle.

Because the Orange County area has its fair share of celebrities and highly affluent families, there are several things to keep in mind if you’re planning on divorcing your spouse and sharing custody of your children as a high-income earner. Below, we discuss some of the laws and court precedent that will generally go into settling a divorce.

How California Law Calculates Child Support for High-Income Earners

In most cases, California will apply its child support calculator to determine how much you owe in child support. However, Family Code section 4057(b)(3) does allow an exception for high-income-earning parents. Specifically, the law states that parents whose income is disproportionately higher than the needs of the child can petition that the typical calculator used should be thrown out in favor of an adjusted figure that makes sense for both parent and child. In order to do so, the parent would have to show evidence of their high income and prove that using the child support calculator designed by the state of California would far exceed the needs of the child.

While statutory law in California has taken this unique circumstance into account, neither the law nor the courts have been specific about what is considered ‘high net income’ for purposes of child support payments. In 1994, one California court determined that $1.4 million per year was an extraordinarily high income; that number was lowered even further six years later when a court decided that $1.175 million was considered high income.

Ultimately, what we can learn from these cases is that courts will generally allow divorcing high-income earners making at least $1 million per year to petition to have their income calculated differently for child support payment purposes. 

Contact an Irvine Child Support Lawyer to Learn More

If you’re a high-income-earning parent who is contemplating divorce,  you are encouraged to speak with an experienced Irvine child support lawyer who routinely handles high-asset divorces. While it’s important to provide an adequate amount of support for your child, it’s also important to ensure that your child support payments do not go above and beyond what’s necessary to support their lifestyle. Contact our offices today to learn more.