Do you have to pay child support if you have 50/50 custody in California?
Even though two divorced parents split custody equally, in California there are cases where the ex-spouse with the higher income may pay child support.
Even amicable divorces can be complex and challenging as the two parties untangle the various parts of their lives that have become intertwined over time. When a couple with children divorces in California they are given the opportunity to hammer out the details of custody and child support themselves.
However, this can be a very contentious issue and often results in judges determining how much time the child or children in question spend with each parent. Likewise, the amount of child support that one parent will pay to another even if they share custody equally.
How is child support determined in California?
Federal law requires that each state establish guidelines for calculating and awarding child support. These rules can vary widely from state to state but are uniform within each. Only in very limited situations in California can the judge order that child support differ from the state’s guidelines which are reviewed and updated every four years by a panel.
In the case of the Golden State several factors are taken into account, beyond just the time that each parent has a child or children in their care and who has primary custody. The gross and net income of each parent and monthly expenses will also be factored in, among other things. Significant difference between each parents’ income may mean the judge raises or lowers the amount of child support that needs to be paid can be part of the equation.
Parents may also have to share costs for childcare so that the parent can work or acquire work skills, as well as the child’s educational needs. Reasonable healthcare expenses for the could be included or expenses for special needs. Even travel expenses for visitation between each parents’ residence.
Why one parent may have to pay child support when custody is shared 50/50
In the case parents dividing physical custody down the middle, both parents have a legal obligation to provide for the child financially. So that a child’s standard of living is maintained as if the divorce had never happened, a judge may order that the higher-earning parent to pay child support even though custody is shared 50/50.
Additionally, this separation of financial obligation could see the parent with the higher income receiving child support. If he or she is the custodial parent and thus has a greater share of daily responsibility taking care of the child, the lower-income noncustodial parent may have to provide financial support. It’s assumed that the parent with primary custody is already spending more of their income to provide food, clothing and shelter, on top of incurring other expenses.
The State of California provides a tool to calculate how much one may have to pay in child support using the guidelines established. To aid those who would like to use it there is a user’s guide that can be consulted.