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Reasons for inaccuracy in child support estimates

With all the uncertainties surrounding the end of a marriage and a child's need for stability, California parents who are seeking a divorce in Fullerton are likely to look for predictability anywhere they can fine it. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring financial needs are met, and child support often plays a leading role in this goal. Parents often turn to authoritative government websites for information about child support guidelines.

A common feature on these websites is the child support calculator. These provide an estimate of the support amount based on state law. The programs typically require the income per month for each parent, the amount of total time the children will spend in each household, tax credits received by each spouse and employment benefits, such as health care insurance. This shows the first problem with relying on a calculator's estimation. Some of this information is likely to change between filing for divorce and a judge signing the final agreement.

Information not entered into the child support calculator can also lead to a wild divergence between the estimate and final decision. A family law judge has discretion to consider many factors, such as the long-term medical needs of the child and extracurricular expenses. The law provides a guide, but the judge must ultimately make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

Complete financial disclosure and open negotiations during divorce can lead to a fair support decision that serves the best interests of the child, but problems are not uncommon. A parent may not foresee a particular expense or fail to bring up relevant issues to the court. Poorly negotiated property division could also lead to much different financial circumstances for one or both partners after the divorce. A parent seeking predictability may be best served by having the assistance of an attorney throughout the process.

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