“Shared custody” is a confusing term because child custody terms often overlap and mean multiple things, depending on the situation. Custody can be “shared” in several ways, and different types of shared custody have different implications for things like decision-making in your child’s life, and especially for child support payments. If you are going through a divorce, a custody dispute, or a child support dispute in California, talk to an attorney. The Ventura child support lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth help parents in the Ventura area with their California child custody and child support issues. For a free consultation, call our law offices today.
Who Pays Child Support When Custody is Shared?
To understand how shared custody affects child support, we must understand what shared custody is. To understand this, we must first go over the two general types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions in your child’s life.
Decisions about things like education, religion, healthcare, and other important areas of life are all covered under legal custody. On the other hand, physical custody is when you have your child with you, living in your home. This does not happen unless you also have legal custody, but gives you the added power to make day-to-day decisions while your child is with you. This means controlling things like what’s for dinner, how your kid will get to soccer practice, and whether they can spend time with a friend after school.
Both legal and physical custody can be shared in California. In cases where both parents live together, each parent technically shares legal and physical custody. When legal custody is shared, each parent still gets the full decision-making ability. This means that parents must work together on big decisions. Parents may be able to control what the other parent does when it touches big, important issues like medical procedures, what religion the child will practice, and what school the child will attend. Physical custody is usually shared by dividing the time the child spends living with each parent. In some cases, a parent has no physical custody and is only allowed supervised visitation. In other cases, a parent may get every other weekend or may have the children nearly half the year.
When a child is physically living with a parent, that parent is known as the “custodial parent” at the time. This does not imply that the other parent has no custody, just that they have no physical custody (at the time). The parent who has children for more of the year is usually said to have “primary” physical custody of the children.
In almost every case, one parent will have the child for more than half of the year. In that case, the parent who has the child for less of the year pays the child support.
Child Custody’s Effect on Calculating Child Support in CA
The parent who has physical custody of the children for more of the year, unsurprisingly, has many expenses to cover. Raising a child is expensive, even for day-to-day expenses like groceries. Since the parent with primary custody pays these day-to-day expenses out-of-pocket for most of the year, the other parent pays them back with child support. This helps cover their fair share of the cost of raising the children.
If you have your kids half the time, you will ideally pay zero child support. For parents who have a time split more like 60/40 or 70/30, the cost of child support increases for the parent without primary custody.
Child support calculations are also based heavily on the number of children supported and the parents’ combined income. Courts calculate the total amount of money needed to raise different numbers of children under different income levels. From there, the parents each pay their fair share based on their proportion of the total income. So, parents who make around the same amount of money share the cost equally, while a parent who makes more is expected to pay more. Again, this is adjusted for the amount of time they have their kids with them.
If your income or parenting time has changed since your child support amounts were finalized, you may be entitled to a modified child support order. In California, your support is generally taken straight out of your paycheck, and it isn’t always obvious how much you’re paying. Consider revisiting your current financial situation with the help of a Ventura child support modification attorney to see if you may be entitled to pay lower child support.
Ventura, CA Child Support Lawyer
Child support and child custody are based on a series of factors that may be difficult to understand. If you need help with your child support case, or think you are paying too much child support, talk to an attorney today. The Ventura, CA family law attorneys at Bamieh and De Smeth understand the issues surrounding child custody, child support, and child support modification in California. For a free consultation on your case, contact our attorneys today at (805) 585-5056.