Many people mistakenly assume that a 50/50 custody arrangement means that they won’t have to pay child support. However, custody isn’t the only factor that goes into determining support payments. The income of each parent must be considered as part of the calculation. In situations where one parent out earns the other, that parent may be required to pay child support — even if custody is split equally.

Child Support in 50/50 Custody Arrangements

While there are many things that can go into calculating a parent’s child support requirements, there are two primary factors: custody and income. If parents have a joint custody arrangement that results in the child spending 50% of their time with each parent, then custody is less of a factor in this calculation. However, 50/50 custody arrangements do not necessarily absolve parents of child support obligations.

This may seem unfair, as each parent has an obligation to financially support their children. Why would a parent who enjoys 50/50 custody be required to pay child support? The answer really comes down to finances. If that parent earns significantly more than the other parent, it may be necessary to require that parent to pitch in more, financially. Placing an equal financial burden on both parents may not be realistic and could create an undue burden on the lesser-earning parent.

Family Code 3900 provides that every child has the right to be financially supported by both parents, and parents share an equal responsibility to support their children. California’s child support laws are based on the principle that each parent is obligated to support their children financially — according to their situation. More importantly, child support isn’t a punishment for a parent who is required to pay it. It is meant for the children and is ordered in the best interest of the child.

Of course, there are situations where a 50/50 custody arrangement may result in no child support. If each parent has a similar income and they split custody evenly, then there may not be a child support obligation for each parent.

Child Support Can Be Set at $0 per Family Code 4057 (b)

(b) The presumption of subdivision (a) is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof and may be rebutted by admissible evidence showing that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case, consistent with the principles set forth in Section 4053, because one or more of the following factors is found to be applicable by a preponderance of the evidence, and the court states in writing or on the record the information required in subdivision (a) of Section 4056…

(5) Application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate due to special circumstances in the particular case. These special circumstances include, but are not limited to, the following…

(B) Cases in which both parents have substantially equal time-sharing of the children and one parent has a much lower or higher percentage of income used for housing than the other parent.

Remember Child Support Is For the Child

When parents fight over child support it is easy to forget that the payments are made for the benefit of the child. Lines can be blurred when tempers are high. A court will not order a parent to pay child support if it does not believe that it is truly in the best interest of the child.

If you have questions about child support or any other issues discussed in this article, contact our accomplished and dedicated family law, divorce, and child custody lawyers by calling (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or contact us online for a free consultation with our experienced family law attorney, Colleen Sparks, who can guide you through the court process in a prompt and clear manner.

Our family law attorneys serve Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Silicon Valley, and surrounding areas in California. 

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