High Earner? Is Your Child Support Fair?

California has standard guidelines in place to calculate the child support amount in a divorce case. Under the state law, the guideline formula is considered correct presumptively. But in exceptional cases (such as where the paying parent is a high earner), the family court can deviate from the guideline to calculate child support amount. 

If you are a parent who is seeking a higher amount of child support from the co-parent, your child support lawyer in San Diego can help you present evidence showing that the use of standard guideline formula would be inappropriate or unjust in your case. 

On the other hand, if you are the paying parent, you could similarly present your facts before the court to show that even though you are a high earner, the child support should be determined reasonably. Your San Diego child support lawyer can highlight key factors such as the child’s actual needs, the co-parent’s income, any other children who are dependent on your income, and other factors to support your case.

What is Considered a High Income?

The family law courts in California have a wide discretion to determine for the purpose of child support calculation whether a parent is an exceptionally high earner. However, the court will consider the income amount in context of the cost of living in a particular geographical location.

For instance, a high earner parent in a prime urban location such as San Diego will have to earn significantly more than a parent in a smaller, remote location in order for their income to be considered exceptionally high by the court.

What Support Amount does the Child Actually Require?


The law in California says that children have a right to share in their parents’ standard of living. Child support in California is meant to improve the child’s quality of life. If you are a high earner parent involved in a divorce case, you should discuss this tricky element of the law carefully with your San Diego child support lawyer.

Here is an example to explain the real import of this law: Let’s assume that your child is living with the co-parent for 75% of the time, and spends the remaining 25% of the time with you. In this case, if your income is substantially higher than that of the co-parent, the court in California may determine that your child’s living standard when the child is with the co-parent should not be much lower than the child’s living standard when with you.

In this case, the court may decide to deviate from the standard guideline and determine a higher child support amount that you will have to pay in order to raise the living standard of your child while the child is with the co-parent. 

When can you Pay Lower Child Support as a High Earner?

You can explore the possibility of paying a lower child support amount than the guideline formula (even as a high earner) in consultation with your child support lawyer in San Diego. The court may approve it if all of the following conditions are met: 

  • Both parents are informed of their child support rights. 
  • Both parents have voluntarily agreed to the exception.
  • The agreement upholds the child’s best interests. 
  • The child’s needs are going to be adequately met.

Talk to an Experienced San Diego Child Support Lawyer

As a high earner, you should have a realistic evaluation of the potential child support payments you may have to make after divorce. At Neumann Family Law, APC, we have more than 25 years of experience in handling family law matters, including child support. Call us at (619) 282-1107 for a complimentary phone consultation or an appointment. 

Find more like this: California Divorce Law

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