"Smith-Ostler" Percentage and Additions to Child Support

Additional child support through a percentage of future income

Smith-Ostler Percentage is an Addition to Child Support

The term Smith Ostler (or Ostler Smith) refers to a California case from 1990 that dealt with the issue of additional child support from a parent's annual gross cash bonus.

This issue arises when a parent may receive a future bonus or otherwise has fluctuating income. There could be a lot of reasons for fluctuating income including a parent who works primarily on commissions, tips or receives bonuses one or more times throughout the year. To avoid parents from returning to court each time income fluctuates, courts will commonly make a child support order on a base income that is reasonable and then order that parent who pays support to pay a percentage of his or her additional income. This should not be an automatic thing in every child support case. It is very much a case-by-case approach.

If it is appropriate, the child support order will state the percentage the parent will pay from future income that can properly be considered for California child support purposes. Fortunately, this percentage is not just some random number the judge picks out of a hat. The same computer formula that calculates guideline child support also calculates the percentage.