Will I Still Have to Pay Child Support if Sharing 50/50 Custody in California?

In California, it is common for spouses to split 50/50 custody of a child (or children) and for one spouse to still owe child support. If you are the higher-earning parent and you intend to share custody of your children equally (50/50 custody), you may be ordered to pay some child support or pay some costs. The reasons why come down to a little math and a lot of splitting hairs, but it makes sense when it’s laid out clearly.

50/50 custody is common in California

Many divorced couples in California share 50/50 custody of their children. In this state, it’s generally preferred that parents share joint physical and legal custody when possible. The state tries to promote 50/50 custody in as many of these scenarios as possible.

50/0 custody gives both parents of a child (or children) equal visitation rights. Children of parents with 50/50 custody split their time evenly between parents.

The Purpose of Child Support

Child support is intended to provide the children of marriage the same quality of life they had prior to the couple’s divorce. California law, in particular, serves two purposes when it comes to child support:

Child support guidelines in California serve two purposes:

Child support and child custody are separate

Child support is related to child custody, but the two are distinct and different entities. They both impact each other. Usually, whichever parent spends the least amount of time with a child (or the non-custodial parent) is responsible for child support payments.

This is where many family law clients have questions: what happens when parents share custody of a child 50/50?

California Courts Must Follow State Child Support Guidelines to Calculate Payments

What are California’s child support payment calculation guidelines?

According to state law, courts in California must follow the child support guidelines for calculating payments. A judge who is making a child support judgment needs to consider:

  • The gross incomes of both parents (incl. wages, commissions, rental income, tips, bonuses, and so on)
  • The mandatory payroll deductions and available tax deductions for both parents
  • The percentage of time the child or children will spend with each parent
  • Each parent’s individual forecasted childcare costs

The formula used to calculate child support payments in California

How are child support payments calculated in California?

California courts use a formula to calculate child support. The formula is  CS = K(HN-(H%)(TN)). It means that child support is equal to:

  • K- the combined total of both parents’ income
  • HN- the monthly net income of the higher-earning parent
  • H%- the estimated amount of time the higher-earning parent will have child custody (in comparison to the other parent)
  • TN- both parents’ net monthly disposable income combined

In short: child support is equal to 15% of the difference between what one parent earns and the other parent earns. Some factors can cause the number to fluctuate, but it’s a solid reference point in most divorce cases.

Will I Still Have to Pay Child Support if Sharing 50/50 Custody in California?

How much child support do I have to pay if I have 50/50 custody in California?

In California divorces where both parents share 50/50 custody of a child or children, child support payments generally amount to 15% of the difference between the parents’ earnings. Other factors (like the number of children you share, your monthly incomes, etc.) also factor into the decision.

  • If both parents earn roughly the same amount of money each month and they share 50/50 custody, it is less likely either parent will be required to pay child support

Sometimes, even parents who enjoy 50/50 custody find themselves required to pay child support. This is something you should discuss with a family law attorney if you or your spouse significantly out-earns the other. A divorce without a child support arrangement could leave one parent with unfair financial burden is 50/50 custody is granted.

An example of child support payments in a divorce with 50/50 custody in California

If two parents both make $2,000 per month, there’s no difference between their incomes. Since child support is usually equal to 15% of the difference in parents’ incomes, it’s likely neither parent would pay child support.

If one parent made $1,500 a month, though, and the other made $3,000 per month, there would be an income difference of $1,500. In this case, it’s likely the higher earner would pay $225 in child support per month (or 15% of $1,500 per month).

If You Have Questions About Child Support and 50/50 Custody In California, We Understand

When tempers and emotions are high, it can be very difficult to remember what’s best for you and your family. Emotions are almost never as high as they are during a divorce– and if a parent is getting upset about something they feel is unfair on top of that, it’s a recipe for disaster.

There’s no need to cause any member of the family stress. Child support is for the child. No court would order a parent to pay child support unless it fully believed that the parent’s payments would be in the child’s best interests. If you feel that some mistake has been made, you can always consult with a family law professional to determine if additional steps should be taken.

Pedrick Law Group, APC: Family Law Attorneys In Orange County, California

Our Irvine office is ideally located for clients in Irvine and Orange County

A family law attorney can help answer you questions about child support, custody, and divorce in California.

If you or somebody you love has questions about family law, the team at Pedrick Law Group, APC may be able to help. Reach out to us via the web today or call us at 949-388-8682 to speak to a legal professional about your potential case. You can find our Orange County office at:

17901 Von Karman Ave
Suite #635
Irvine, CA 92614

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