Child Support - What is it?

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Young person jumpingIn California, the law says that every parent has a duty to financially support his or her child. (See California Family Code, Section 3900) Opens new window  Child support ensures that every child has the food, clothing, medical care and ability to get an education that will enable him or her to have a successful life. 

Normally, parents can agree on how much money is fair and reasonable to take care of their child.  However, if they cannot agree, the court may be requested to order one parent to pay the other parent a specific amount of money every month to help pay for a child’s living expenses.  This is called “court-ordered child support.”

To help parents who cannot come to an agreement about child support on their own, California has established a formula to calculate what a non-custodial parent should pay for child support.  The formula takes into account each parent's actual income and the amount of time that the child spends with the parent. 

In this section you will find information about what to do if:

It will help you understand what to do:

BEFORE starting a child support case

DURING a legal proceeding if you are the parent asking for support

DURING a legal proceeding if you are being asked to pay support

AFTER a legal proceeding

This section also has answers for your Frequently Asked Questions about child support, and information about the forms you will need for your case.

To view some short videos with general information about how California's court system works, click here. Opens new window

To get the information you need to get started, you can use the "drop down" menu at the left side of this page, or you can click on the "Next" button at the bottom of the page.


This website’s general information is very helpful for everyone in California.
To find your county court’s website to learn about extra forms or procedures, click here.


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If you want help finding what you need, you can email us at virtualselfhelp@contracosta.courts.ca.gov.

You will receive a response within one week.