Child support is designed to cover the costs related to raising children and to ensure that the children’s needs are met. While it might seem straightforward to figure out how child support works when there is one custodial and one non-custodial parent, there are some factors that courts consider when determining child support during joint physical custody arrangements. Parents in California who are negotiating custody and support should be aware of how courts determine support when they share physical custody.
Joint custody and child support
When child custody is decided, courts grant legal and physical custody. Legal custody grants a parent the right to make decisions for their children in such things as medical care, education and religious upbringing. In many cases, courts grant joint legal custody even if they are not granting joint physical custody. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child will physically live and can be granted as sole custody, custody and visitation or joint physical custody. While legal custody is not considered a factor in child support decisions, courts consider physical custody to determine child support payments.
Factors considered by the court
When determining child support in joint physical custody situations, courts will often look at several factors beyond the custody agreement. These include:
- The number of nights the child spends with each parent
- Each parent’s income and financial state
- Additional expenses such as childcare and travel costs related to the custody arrangement
- The ability of each parent to maintain a stable, secure home for the child
While child support is established by the courts, parents can work towards an agreement that they both feel is fair. They can also make some modifications as needed, when there are significant changes in the situation if they respect their court order and the state’s legislation.