We are often asked if there is child support when co-parents share custody. Whenever a divorce in San Diego involves a child or children under the age of 18 (or still in high school) the parties must complete California’s child support calculator. The result of the State child support calculator must be provided to the Judge, even if the parties have reached some other agreement. This is the legal starting point for any divorce involving children.
The parties may negotiate the amount of child support between themselves, or reach agreement during mediation. However, the Judge must review and approve this request, and will still require the result of the State child support calculator. The Judge is not bound to follow the agreement of the parties.
The Family Law Code of California holds each parent of a child equally responsible for providing for the needs of their child(ren) including, but not limited to food, clothing, shelter, health care and education. So each parent has an obligation to provide for the child(ren) in question. There will usually be child support orders in cases where custody of the child(ren) is not shared roughly equally between the parties. But when happens with child support when parents share custody?
Most experts believe and many studies have shown it is best for the child to share roughly equal time with each parent during and after a divorce. California Family Law recognizes it is important for the child to spend equal “quality time” with each parent. The overall guiding principle of all California Family Law regarding children is “the best interest of the child.”
The term “shared custody” refers to equal rights for each parent with regards to physical custody (the right to have the child to live with you and to be in your custody) as well as legal custody (the right to make important decisions in the child’s life including healthcare, education, religious practice, etc).
When co-parents share custody of the child(ren) the next question is income. If the parties earn relatively the same amount of money there probably won’t be any child custody ordered. If one co-parent who is a party to a shared parenting agreement earns significantly more than the other it is likely the Judge will review the result of the state child support calculator and the agreements reached by the parties (if any) before rendering a decision.