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

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

It wasn’t long ago that a family court almost always awarded custody to the mother when parents divorced. In this case, the father would almost always be the noncustodial parent and would be in charge of paying child support. The good news is that this has changed in the last two decades. Today, courts throughout the U.S. – and in California – do not assume that the mother is automatically the better fit.

However, with this good news comes complications. While most people are glad that the courts are now considering what is truly in the best interest of the child instead of awarding custody based on a parent’s gender, the new custody rules have made some situations and unclear. For example, what happens when parents share custody 50 / 50 – does one of them pay child support? Keep reading to get the answer – then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation to find out more about your options.

Child support in the era of joint custody

It may seem that if both parents agree to joint custody, live in the same school zone, and share the care for the children, that there would be no reason for child support. That is not how it necessarily works in California.

In most cases, one of the parents will make more money than the other parent makes. In that case, the parent with higher earnings may be required to pay child support, or they may have to pay for additional costs such as extracurricular costs, school, and childcare costs. It all depends on how much more the higher earning makes and how much the child’s care costs are.

Now consider a different case: A case in which parents share custody but not equally. Let’s say the child is with one parent five days a week and the other parent two days a week. Will this be a factor in determining child support? In most cases, yes – the amount of time a child spends with each parent will be one factor in determining child support. The more time a child spends with you, the less support you will be obligated to pay.

Once again, it is not always this simple. The actual formula used for child support is complicated and there are other factors in play beyond how much time a child spends with one parent. For example, if one parent has the child five days per week but makes five times the salary as the parent who has the child for two days, then the higher earner may in fact have to pay child support – even though they have the child roughly ¾ of the week.

If you have questions about child support, child custody, or other family law concerns, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 now for a free legal consultation.


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My ex-wife hired an attorney which prompted me to do so for our divorce. Torrence Howell was highly recommended from a friend of mine who used Torrence’s services for a divorce just like mine. The results came out much better than he ever thought it would. With all things being equal I felt Torrence would

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