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The role of child care expenses in child support payments

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Family Law

Child care expenses can greatly affect child support payments in California. For example, a parent often needs to pay for child care so the parent can go to school or work.

The state generally expects both parents to divide this expense.

Allocation of child care expenses

Each parent typically is responsible for covering 50% of child care expenses. The rationale behind this division is to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial support of their child. California wants this to be the case even if one parent is primarily responsible for the day-to-day caregiving.

Addition to child support guidelines

The amount for child care expenses takes the form of additional support to any child support guideline amount calculated by the court. Child support guidelines in California come from various factors, including each parent’s income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.


Both parents do not necessarily have to agree on the specific amount of child care expenses. The court can determine child care costs and the division between parents. However, the court encourages parents to work together to provide accurate information about child care expenses. If there is a dispute over the amount of child care expenses or other aspects of child support, either parent may request a court hearing.

Adequate support

Child care costs can be substantial. Therefore, factoring these expenses into the child support determination helps address the financial realities that custodial parents face. Many such parents rely on child care to maintain employment or pursue education opportunities.

This approach also emphasizes the importance of parental involvement and financial contribution in the upbringing of the child.