Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have 50/50 Custody?

California family courts prefer that in divorce cases involving a minor child, the parents share joint custody of that child. The best possible scenario is that the child spends time equally, 50/50, with each parent and the parents share legal decision-making responsibility regarding the child’s well-being. How does an equal split in custody affect child support, and does either parent have to pay child support if the child’s time is split equally between parents? The answer is yes, one parent will still likely need to pay child support to the other even if sharing equal time with the child.

California Child Support

Child support is related to, but different from, child custody arrangements. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the child’s standard of living never changes, even as the child’s parents divorce and the child spends time with each parent. In California, the court looks at a number of different factors when determining whether one parent needs to pay the other for child support, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Each parent’s income or earning potential
  • Assets and debts of each parent
  • The number of children each parent has
  • Health insurance costs and premiums
  • Support received from other parents
  • Shared costs of raising the child
  • Custody arrangements

As you can see, the custody arrangement is only one of many factors the court uses to determine child support. Typically, if one parent spends less time with the child, otherwise known as the noncustodial parent, that parent pays the custodial parent child support. However, the situation is trickier when the child is spending equal time with each parent.

Child Support in 50/50 Scenarios

In cases in which a child is spending an equal amount of time with each parent, the custody arrangement is no longer a significant factor in a child support determination. This means that the court takes a harder look at the other factors used in determining a child support order. In these scenarios, the court typically looks at the income and earning potential of each parent, and usually the parent who earns more will be required to pay child support to the lesser earning parent. If one parent earns significantly more than the other, it may be necessary for one parent to pay child support in order to maintain the same standard of living for the child at both households.

It is important to remember in these situations that a child support payment is not meant for your former spouse, it is going towards the wellbeing of your child. When making a child support payment, it can sometimes be easy to forget that this is in the best interests of your child.

Call or Contact a Family Law Attorney

If you have additional questions about being named the custodial parent in your joint custody case in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945.