What Does Joint Custody Mean for Child Support?

One of the most contentious aspects of many family law cases is child custody and the resulting child support payments that will generally be awarded to the parent who will be the primary caregiver. When one parent has primary custody, it’s quite common for that parent to be awarded child support payments so they can financially support the children and ensure they continue to live the same lifestyle to which they have grown accustomed. However, when parents share joint custody of children, determining who has to pay child support isn’t so easy. If you’re currently in the process of a divorce and are struggling to figure out how you will navigate child custody and support, consider speaking with an experienced Irvine child support lawyer to resolve your issues.

You might assume that a 50/50 custody split means that you won’t have to pay child support, but that isn’t always the case. California courts will look to each parent’s income in order to calculate who is responsible for making child support payments, and in situations where one parent’s income is higher than the other’s, that parent may be required to pay child support even if custody is equally shared.

How Child Support Is Determined in California

Child support is a monetary payment that a court orders one parent to pay the other for their shared childrens’ living expenses. Under state law, every parent has a duty to support their children financially until they turn 18 years old according to the parent’s situation and station in life. In other words, the state requires parents to maintain their child’s lifestyle as though the divorce has never occurred. Child support payments are usually court-mandated and begin once the divorce is finalized. 

California has uniform guidelines and a formula for determining how much child support a parent owes. That formula includes determining:

  • Each parent’s gross income
  • Each parent’s monthly disposable net income (after taxes, health insurance, and other living expenses)
  • Each parent’s share of custody and time spent with the children

If the parents have a joint custody arrangement that results in the child spending 50% of their time with each parent, then custody is less of a factor in this calculation but does not absolve the higher-earning parent from having to pay child support payments. For example, in order for one parent to continue to provide a nice lifestyle for their child, they may need additional money to pay rent on a larger home instead of a smaller apartment. In that case, the court would likely award child support to the lower-earning parent so that the child can maintain a comfortable living situation no matter who they’re staying with at the time.

Contact an Irvine Child Support Lawyer to Learn More

If you’re currently considering a divorce and would like more information about what will be required of you for child support, an Irvine child support lawyer can help. Contact our office today to learn more.