Child Custody & Calculating Child Support
As a parent going through a divorce or separation, your top questions revolve around child support and physical custody of your child. In California, there are several types of joint custody. Most commonly, divorcing or separated couples get a joint-custody arrangement that allows both parents to share physical custody and legal custody of their child. Both parents are involved in the child’s day-to-day life, and make important decisions regarding education, health care and religion.
If you agree to share custody of your child, you may be wondering how it will affect your child support. Shared custody is just part of the child support calculation. The family court in California uses different factors when calculating child support. It is important to understand that even if you have joint custody with the other parent, child support can still be granted. Joint custody means that a child is considered to have two custodial parents.
Calculating Child Support in California
Child support is the periodic payments, usually monthly, made by a parent for the financial support and care of a child. Before child support is ordered, the court reviews the financial documents of each parent to help determine how much each parent should contribute towards supporting the child. When child custody is considered in a child support calculation, it is not unusual for one or both parents to be ordered to pay child support even if they share joint custody.
Typically, the parent with the higher income pays support to the parent with the lower income. But there are other important factors that can affect the amount each parent is ordered to pay:
- The amount of time each parent spends with the child.
- Other dependent children.
- Education and child care needs.
- Special needs care for the child.
- Expenses involved in maintaining each home.
- Income tax filing factors.
Contrary to what some parents may believe, child support is not about penalizing them or rewarding parents for spending more or less time with their child, but rather to provide the financial support needed to provide the child with food, clothing and shelter. Ultimately the court will make an order that allows a child to maintain the lifestyle that both parents have or can reasonably afford to have.
Every child support case and family situation is different. If you have questions about your child support case, please contact a California divorce attorney to get an estimate of what you can expect to pay or receive. A legal consultation can also answer questions about other child support issues including child support agreements and arrears.