Child Support Q & A

As a Certified Family Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience, attorney Michael P. McDeavitt has handled a wide range of child support matters. He shares some of his expertise regarding child support in California for you below.

Q: How is child support determined?

A: In California, awarded child support must be based on admissible evidence of a parent’s income. Absent contrary evidence, income stated by a parent on their income tax return is presumed to be a correct statement of their income and is thus admissible evidence in court. If your spouse is not listing their actual income on their tax return, it is vital that you have an attorney who can challenge their claim on your behalf.

Admissible income, among other data pertaining to one’s case, gets inputted into a computer program known as DissoMaster. Ultimately, courts in California use DissoMaster to determine the guideline amount of child support. It should be noted that the judge is allowed to deviate either upward or downward from the guideline amount designated by DissoMaster if the judge is presented with admissible evidence justifying such a change.

Q: Does DissoMaster fairly represent the amount of child support to be paid?

A: While the DissoMaster program is designed to be fair, it often isn’t. DissoMaster is unable to take into consideration key factors, including a party’s refusal to work, stock options, and underreported income, to name just a few. Fortunately, DissoMaster is not the ultimate determinant of child support. A lawyer can help set and adjust your guideline child support amount by presenting a more complete picture of your financial situation to the court.

Q: How can I have a say in determining child support?

A: 1) Your child support amount is within your control as long as you and your spouse agree to it. In mediation through our firm dedicated exclusively to Family Law, you and your spouse can determine a child support amount in our private office rather than let a judge decide for you in a crowded courtroom. Mediation allows you to reach a settlement with your spouse that takes into account the complexities of your life.

2) If working with your spouse is out of the question, then litigation may better suit your needs. Through litigation, our Certified Family Law Specialist can help with trickier child support matters (e.g., self-employment, underreported income, varied income, refusal to work, etc.) and acquire pertinent information for your case through formal or informal discovery on the opposing party. In litigation through our firm, our Certified Family Law Specialist can defend your position and fight for better results.

Q: What are some of the ways that Michael P. McDeavitt, Esq., CFLS can help me with my child support matter?


  • He can sit down with you in our office and run various DissoMaster support calculations and discuss your options with you. He has the same DissoMaster software used in the courts.
  • Drafting and interpreting child support agreements
  • Determining if child support modification is appropriate for your case
  • Child support enforcement
  • Risk assessment
  • Provides 1-on-1 meetings to walk you through the process and discuss your options
  • Reviews the pros and cons of mediation versus litigation for your case
  • Provides insight on factors that may determine your child support amount
  • Works with you to determine an appropriate amount in child support
  • Informs you of the latest cases and Family Law Codes that may impact your case
  • And more.

Child support is more than just a simple Q&A. To understand the full complexity of the facts of your case, your rights, and your options, speak with Michael P. McDeavitt, a Certified Family Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience. Whether you are creating a new child support plan or are modifying an existing plan, contact our firm for a free consultation with our Certified Family Law Specialist. In addition to representing clients in Pleasanton, we serve the surrounding communities, including Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon, the Tri-Valley and throughout East Bay.