Hardships Your Family Is In Good Hands


Hardship deductions are set forth in California Family Code section 4059(e):

“Any child or spousal support actually being paid by the parent pursuant to a court order, to or for the benefit of any person who is not a subject of the order to be established by the court. In the absence of a court order, any child support actually being paid, not to exceed the amount established by the guideline, for natural or adopted children of the parent not residing in that parent's home, who are not the subject of the order to be established by the court, and of whom the parent has a duty of support. Unless the parent proves payment of the support, no deduction shall be allowed under this subdivision.”

Keep in mind that to qualify for the hardship deduction, there must either a) be an actual court order for child support for a child of another relationship that one parent is supporting or b) a new child of another relationship with actual evidence that one parent is supporting that child. If there is actual court order for child support and that parent is actually paying the child support, the court will input the amount of child support paid for the other relationship into the support calculator which effectively reduces that parent’s gross income for which they can pay child support which potentially means less child support for the current case. If the parent is not actually paying the child support for the other relationship then no credit will be forthcoming.

Another basis for a hardship deduction if covered by California Family Code section 4071 which is set forth as follows:

  • "Circumstances evidencing hardship include the following:
    • Extraordinary health expenses for which the parent is financially responsible, and uninsured catastrophic losses.
    • The minimum basic living expenses of either parent's natural or adopted children for whom the parent has the obligation to support from other marriages or relationships who reside with the parent. The court, on its own motion or on the request of a party, may allow these income deductions as necessary to accommodate these expenses after making the deductions allowable under paragraph (1).
  • The maximum hardship deduction under paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) for each child who resides with the parent may be equal to, but shall not exceed, the support allocated each child subject to the order. For purposes of calculating this deduction, the amount of support per child established by the statewide uniform guideline shall be the total amount ordered divided by the number of children and not the amount established under paragraph (8) of subdivision (b) of Section 4055.
  • The Judicial Council may develop tables in accordance with this section to reflect the maximum hardship deduction, taking into consideration the parent's net disposable income before the hardship deduction, the number of children for whom the deduction is being given, and the number of children for whom the support award is being made.”

    To differentiate these code sections, the latter applies to any children that either party resides with for whom they are obligated to provide support whereas the former is more applicable to child support orders that either parent is required to pay. The Court is not required to grant a party a full hardship. It is possible if another parent is involved who is also providing support for that child, that the Court may grant that parent a half of a hardship. For example, Parent A has two children with Parent B. The Parents separate. Parent B meet Parent C and they have two children together. In this situation, the Court may grant Parent B either two full hardships for the children with Parent C or they may grant one full hardship (most likely if Parent C is also working) based on the fact that Parent C is also providing support for those children. Hardships do NOT apply to step-children.

    Finally, if either parent has recurring extraordinary health care costs, that parent may be granted a hardship for these recurring expenses. This provision is not intended to apply to isolated medical expenses or co-pays, but rather to extraordinary ongoing health care costs such as when a parent has to be hospitalized often.

    A Practical Guide to California Family Law By Paul A. Eads, Esq.

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