Child Support Payments

If I Have Joint Custody, Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

Divorce conjures up so many fears. Chief among them is the financial uncertainty of the outcome. Division of property makes you think about what you will gain or lose. Then there is spousal support with its concerns about whether you will receive enough or pay too much. When faced with these pressures, child support can look like another looming, scary expense.

In California, child custody is granted in percentages. The more you have the kids, the higher your percentage of custody. An equal, 50/50 custody split is rare. Even a 60/40 split can be hard to manage. More often, you see a greater gap in custody percentages, like a 75/25 split, 80/20, etc. And you might have “joint”, “sole” or “primary” custody and receive or pay child support.

Child support in California is based on many different factors, each of which affects the overall support ruling. Regardless of your percentage of custody, you may still be asked to pay child support. But, the percentage of time you spend with your kids is definitely a main factor in determining child support.

How Is Child Support Determined?

California uses a complex formula to determine child support payments. It accounts for several factors. First, it considers how much money is needed to support the child. Then it totals the incomes of each parent. The highest-earning spouse will probably make child support payments, but that’s not automatically true.

The formula also calculates which parent has the kids more often. Your percentage of custody/visitation directly impacts how much you will pay in child support. The more often you have the children, the less money you will spend on payments or if you are the receiving parent then the more child support you will receive.

Rethinking Child Support

In our introduction, we discussed how child support can appear as yet another crippling expense in your divorce. We often see this thinking in our clients. People find themselves searching for ways around the cost of a divorce, even child support. They begin asking questions like the one above, thinking in terms of “must” and “have to” pay child support, and they want a way out.

We encourage you to think of child support as a privilege. Here are some ways you can reconsider child support.

It Keeps You Involved

We all want to care for our kids the best we can. In a society that runs on money, making child support payments is a way to be directly involved in your child’s welfare. You can feel a sense of satisfaction, knowing that you are helping feed and clothe your children, even from afar.

The Payments Shouldn’t Be Too Burdensome

Remember, child support is determined by a complex formula. A key variable in that formula is each parent’s income. If you break the numbers down, you may find that you aren’t paying much more on the kids than you were while you were married.

If your child support payments are unreasonable, something went wrong. They are meant to be fair and manageable. When they are not affordable from the start, you may consider going back to the court to request a modification. Taking a second look at the finances, the court may rule in your favor, bringing payments to a reasonable level.

Each Parent Pays Child Support

The parent who receives the checks also pays child support. The law assumes that this parent uses their income on the kids. Remember, child support is based on both parents’ incomes and the amount of time they have with the kids. When you have children in your home, you spend money on them. The more time they are in your house, the less you spend on child support payments.

The Money Is Not Going to the Other Parent

It’s easy to believe that child support is a payment from one adult to another. The money does flow in that direction, but you are not paying your former spouse. Child support is legally designated for the kids alone. If a parent uses child support on themselves, they could face legal consequences.

If you have concerns about your child support, contact our firm for assistance. We can help make sure payments are reasonable. If they need to be modified, we can assist with that as well. Call us today at (619) 304-8499 or reach out online.

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