Who pays child support if the father is a minor in California?

Determining child support can already be a complicated process, let alone when the parents involved are minors. If one or both parents are under the age of 18 when they give birth to a child, the process of determining who pays child support and how much they pay is slightly different than the norm. This is because one or both parents are still considered minors as well and may not be able to fully take care of themselves yet.

Who Pays Child Support When One or Both Parents Are Minors?

Because most minors are unable to be self-sustaining, it can make determining child support much more complex. If both parents are still minors and living at home at the time of their baby’s birth, then the responsibility for child support can possibly be transferred to both sets of their parents (the baby’s grandparents). This is because, regardless of their age, a parent is still a parent and is held responsible for their child. If they cannot fully take care of their child, the grandparents may be asked to assist.

If only one parent is a minor, the circumstances are a bit different. A parent that is 18 or older will most likely be held fully responsible for helping to provide for their child. Because California determines child support based on income, the 18+ year-old parent will have to pay a percentage based on their earnings. To ensure that the parents involved are aware of what their legal responsibilities are, it’s best to hire a family law attorney to help.

How Does California Calculate Child Support Payments?

To calculate fair child support payments, the state of California takes a variety of factors into consideration, such as the age of the parents, the age of the children involved, the income of both parents, and more. They use what is known as the “income share” model. To determine the exact amount that a parent will be paying, the court first calculates an estimate of how much it will cost to meet a child’s needs each month. From there, the incomes of both parents are taken and added together. In a case involving minors, there may not be two incomes, so this step may have to be adjusted. In some cases, if a minor that needs to pay child support is not working, the court will estimate their potential earnings if they were working and calculate a monthly payment from there.

Does the Father Always Have to Pay Child Support in California?

Child support payments are based on the income and parenting time of each parent, not whether they are the father or the mother. In most cases, sole custody is granted to one parent, making that parent the primary custodial parent who has the children live with them. The noncustodial parent is generally the one who has to pay child support, especially if they have a larger income than the primary custodial parent. In cases of joint custody, where parenting time is more equally split, the parent with the higher income will most likely be required to make child support payments as well, no matter who the children are living with.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

When it comes to determining child custody, most people rely on the aid of an experienced family law attorney to help them through the process. If the parents involved in the child support case are minors, it is in your best interest to find an attorney who can help further explain the law to you. An attorney can not only explain the different liabilities a parent may face as a minor, but they can also assist you in navigating through the different legal proceedings that come with them. Unlike other states that follow the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996,” which automatically transfers the responsibility of child support payments of minors to their parents, California child support cases involving parents that are minors often differ case by case. A lawyer can also represent you in court if there are disagreements between parents, as well as use their negotiation skills to help fight for the best outcome possible in your case.


Q: Which Parent Pays Child Support in California?

A: In the average situation where both parents are legally adults, the noncustodial parent is the one who most often makes the child support payments after a separation. If both parents have joint custody, the higher-earning parent will pay child support based on a percentage that is calculated by the state.

Q: When Does a Minor Start Paying Their Child Support?

A: In most cases, if a parent who is also a minor is asked for child support, the responsibility shifts to their parents (who are the grandparents of the child) until they reach the age of 18 and are emancipated from the home. At that point, they are held responsible for child support as a parent who is a legal adult.

Q: Does Child Support Continue Through College in California?

A: Child support is not dependent on whether a child is in college, but on their age. Once a child turns 18, the noncustodial parent is generally no longer required to make payments on their behalf. Child support may have to be paid if the 18-year-old child is still attending high school, but those payments will end upon graduation or turning 19, whichever happens first.

Q: Can Child Support Arrears be Dropped?

A: In most circumstances, no. Child support arrears are delinquent payments that have not been made. The court will most likely have to enforce the child support order and even use methods such as wage garnishment, asset seizures, or fines to ensure that the delinquent payments are made or compensated for.

Q: Can a Minor Get a Paternity Test in California?

A: While California law doesn’t specify how old someone needs to be to get a paternity test, it does allow both the mother and father of a child to file for a paternity test to legally prove who the biological father is. The court can also ask for a paternity test to verify a parent’s relationship to the child before implementing child support payments.

Northern California Child Support Attorneys

Here at McCunn Law, our team of attorneys specializes in helping families and individuals across northern California with family law matters. We know just how difficult these cases can be, especially when they involve a minor. To learn more about our attorneys, our services, and how we may be able to help minor parents with child support, contact us today.