Hardship Factors in Child Support case in California

A question that often arises in child support cases in California is whether or not a parent can claim a child from a different relationship as a hardship on their income when figuring in the guideline amount of support. The short answers is yes, you can claim a minor child from a different relationship as a hardship deduction if you meet the requirements.

Hardship deductions from income for supporting other children only apply to a child who is either a natural or adopted child of the party involved in the child support case. For example, if you were married and had two children from the marriage, then get divorced and later have another child form a second marriage, the child from the second marriage could potentially considered as a hardship on your income when calculating support for the two children from your marriage.

However, it is important to note that stepchildren cannot be considered as a hardship deduction, only natural or adopted children. The reason is that it only applies to children where there is a legal obligation to provide support. Also, the hardship child needs to reside with the parent. A child from another relationship that doesn’t reside with the parent involved in the child support case would not qualify, although child support paid for other children can be considered separately from hardships in calculating guideline child support.

Another important element to understand is that the maximum hardship deduction for a hardship child cannot exceed the amount of support allocated to each child covered by the child support order. This puts a limitation on how much hardship can be claimed, with the intent to protect the children who already are due support by the parent.

California Family Code sections 4070-4073 regulate the hardship claims that can be made in a child support case. Something to keep in mind is that the hardship deduction for another child may not affect the amount of support as much as the parent thinks it will. For a person paying support, a hardship child deduction will lower the support, but since there usually is also a benefit from the extra tax deduction that another child provides, it often does not lower it as much as people expect.

Many courts, such as the Los Angeles County Superior Court, use a computer program when calculating support called Dissomaster. A Dissomaster report is often attached to any child support order, and shows the breakdown of each parent’s income, and automatically calculates the guideline support. If using this software, the hardship child would usually be given either a factor of .5 or 1.0 in the hardship deduction section, depending on if the hardship child is fully or partially supported by the parent. When the factor is entered, the program will automatically calculate the amount of the hardship¬†deduction, and apply it to the child support guideline calculation.

Because getting a hardship child to be figured into the child support amount can be complicated, it may be necessary for a parent to obtain the assistance of a child support attorney to ensure that the parent gets the proper deduction credited to them.


About thomasmaclean

Attorney based in Burbank, CA.
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7 Responses to Hardship Factors in Child Support case in California

  1. Joms Lee says:

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  2. Christopher Peterson says:

    I went in a year ago and ha child support reviewed and my amount that I owed went up and I was given 1.5 hardship deduction even though I had 4 kids (one from previous marriage ) and 3 from new wife and have since had another child so now I have a total of 5 kids and only getting 1.5 hardship deduction. Can I fight to get a full 4 or 5 since I have 32% of time with child that I support and send her mother $378 in support even durin the summers when I have ha child 85% of summer hours ? I only have veterans disability and social security benefits and want to know if I can fight for my other kids that I have to support as I already am way over budget just trying to make current support payments and support all five kids equally

    • The Judge has great discretion in determining what hardship factors, if any, to grant in a case. The Court should also take into account any child support you are paying in other cases. Your case sounds a little complicated, and it would benefit you to set up a consultation with an attorney to review the current orders and if you have a basis to modify. Feel free to contact our office for further consultation.

    • Steve T says:

      I was just in court yesterday and my ex-wife got a 1 for hardship since she has two other children with someone else and created a 100$ difference in the amount owed. Judge said the only reason he gave her the hardship was since the other father was not in the picture. The information I did want to share was that the county wanted to add step down language which seems to be common up here in Yolo County. I think if this is added to your order it’ll help. The step down order is as follow:

      Child support will step down to $0.00/month when the obligor has no ability to pay and is, for the entire month:
      1. Incarcerated
      2. Receiving TANF or cash public assistance.
      3. Full time enrolled in a residential or psychiatric facility
      4. Receiving SSI/SSP.
      5. Has a medically verified total and permanent disability.

  3. Lawrence Morrow says:

    Please change “insure” to “ensure.”

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