Child support is a monthly payment that parents make to help cover the costs of raising a child. The payment amount depends on California’s child support guidelines. Generally, the parent who cares for a child most of the time (called the custodial parent) tends to receive child support payments. This is because the law assumes that the custodial parent already spends money directly on the child. The parent with less parenting time (called the non-custodial parent) usually makes the payments, but a court can order both parents to pay child support.
Typically, parents must pay child support until the child turns 18. There are some exceptions, however. Support may continue until the age of 19 if the child is still in high school and lives with a parent. The support period could be shorter if the child marries or registers a domestic partnership, joins the military, or otherwise becomes self-supporting. On the other hand, parents could agree to support a child for a longer period of time or, if a child is unable to become self-supporting due to a disability, a court could order continued support.