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Tracing The History and Evolution of California Child Support Guidelines

by Michael Tobriner on November 13, 2013

in Child Support,Family Law

Tracing the History and Evolution of California Child Support Guidelines

All, or at least most, of us collaborators and mediators encourage our divorce clients with children not to feel bound by the Child Support Guideline Formula but instead to construct their own child support program, tailored to their individual family’s needs and resources.

Inevitably, though, our clients have heard about “the formula” and want us to run the numbers for them. My issue here is not how to manage this conflict – others have addressed that problem. Rather, my question is that if the Guidelines are such a powerful force – as indeed they are – where did they come from? Who decided that if high earner earns A, low earner earns B, and the custody timeshare is C, then the child support should be X? What is the rationale for that result? Does it make sense? I don’t know the answers, but I’ve come across a revealing and very well-presented article by the late George Norton (a family law expert if there ever was one), titled “Explaining and Comparing the California Child and Spousal Support Schedules”, published way back in 1987 in the California Family Law Monthly (Matthew Bender). Mr. Norton traces the early history and evolution of the Guidelines in great detail. I haven’t absorbed this information fully as yet; more in the next edition of the Newsletter.

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