Joint custody can be an excellent arrangement for parents who are divorced, separated, or not in a relationship. It gives both parents the opportunity to be a part of their children’s lives, and it also helps parents share the burden of raising children. One of the burdens parents think about the most in joint custody cases is child support. Courts arrange child support based in part on the parenting time split that parents with joint custody share. In a 50/50 parenting time case, who pays child support? The Ventura child support lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain.

How is Child Support Calculated in CA?

In cases with a clear “primary” parent that has full physical child custody, child support decisions are often simpler. In those cases, the primary custodial parent typically pays more out of pocket to support the children, so the other, noncustodial parent will pay child support. Calculating the amounts may still require some intensive calculations and investigation by the court, but there is usually no question as to who will pay child support. In situations with joint custody, it can take further determinations to decide who pays child support and how much they pay. Child support in California is based not only on the parenting time each parent has but also on each parent’s income.

Parents are each expected to pay child support according to their ability to pay, not to split the cost evenly. If one parent makes 75% of the total income and the other makes 25% of the income, the higher earner will be expected to pay a higher share of the child support burden. However, if each parent makes 50% of the parents’ total income, they will usually divide the child support burden based solely on parenting time, giving the parent with less time a higher child support burden.

When a parent has the child in their household, they usually pay expenses out of pocket. This means that child support payments are used to help spread that cost among the parents. For instance, a parent who has their children living with them 100% of the time will pay 100% of their expenses out of pocket, and the other parent will be expected to reimburse them for their fair share (based on income). In cases where parents share time, they each pay out of pocket while the kids are with them, reducing how much they might have to pay overall. The child support formula takes this into account as well such that the deciding factor in determining payments in 50/50 cases is each parent’s income

This calculation tells you how much you need for one child’s support. You do not typically multiply that amount by the number of children, but instead, you add on smaller amounts for each additional child – e.g., an additional 60% for the second child, an additional 40% for a third child, and an additional 30% for a fourth child.

Calculating Child Support in 50/50 Joint Custody Cases in CA

When each parent has custody 50% of the time, we can eliminate a few variables from the child support equation. Since the parenting time percentage is always a factor, we can set that to 50% and come up with a simplified formula that works in most 50/50 child custody cases. Namely, our calculations tell us that a parent with 50/50 custody will usually have to pay child support equal to 15% of the difference in the parent’s incomes.

For instance, if 2 parents each make $2,000 per month, the difference is $0, and neither parent will have to pay support with a 50/50 parenting plan. In an alternate example where one parent makes $1,500 per month and the other makes $3,000 per month, the difference is $1,500, and the higher earner will pay $225/month in child support (15% of $1,500).

Remember that this is based on a simplified model of the full child support calculation modified specifically for 50/50 joint custody where the parents earn a total monthly income between $801 and $6,666. In addition, this gives only the presumptive child support payment. This payment will be increased for each additional child, and other factors may cause a judge to deviate from the guideline and order a different child support amount, especially for parents earning under $1,500 per month.

Call Our Ventura Child Support Lawyers Today

If you are involved in a divorce, legal separation, or joint custody case with 50/50 parenting time, talk to an attorney. Not only should you consider having an attorney represent you during the child custody proceedings, but you should also have an attorney review your child support plan and potentially help you form an agreement to better terms for yourself and your children. To schedule a free legal consultation on your child support case, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth’s Ventura family law attorneys today at (805) 643-5555.