How Child Custody Orders Impact Child Support – Temecula – Riverside – Murrieta
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Many parents wonder how child custody orders may effect child support, and the answer is that child custody and visitation orders have a significant effect on the amount of child support paid by one parent to the other.
Child custody and visitation orders as well as child support orders can be entered by the court through any one of the following “underlying” case types:
- Legal Separation
- Out-of-state registered orders
- Domestic violence
- Post-judgment modification proceedings
Typically a request is filed by one party asking the court to make child custody and visitation orders, or child support orders, or both. Most often a request for custody orders is made concurrently with a request for child support. The mechanism to obtain a court date is by filing a “Request for Order”, which is a motion provided to the Riverside County court clerk and a hearing date is set.
During CCRC, the parties are able to openly discuss what types of parenting plan would work best for their child and them. Unfortunately, the focus is usually on what’s best for the parent rather than the child. However, at the conclusion of the CCRC meeting, the court-appointed “counselor” drafts a recommendation that is sent to the judge, who will read the recommendation on the date of your custody hearing. The judge usually adopts the recommendation, which sets out a parenting plan and in turn established what timeshare each parent has with their child. The timeshare is an important element in how child support is calculated.
While at court for your custody hearing, you have the option of arguing that a CCRC recommendation should not be adopted by the court. You also have the option to request that at least some testimony be taken by the court pursuant to Family Code 217. Ultimately, the court will render its orders based on what it believes is in the children’s best interests. For more information on how the court determines what is in a child’s best interests, visit our custody page and watch this video.
Family Code Sections 4050 through 4076 set forth the California “Guidelines” for child support. These sections should be carefully examined. Section 4055 provides the all-important formula that the computer programs (like Dissomaster) apply.
The statewide uniform guideline for determining child
support orders is as follows: CS = K[HN – (H%)(TN)].
What does this formula mean, and how does it draw a connection between child custody orders and child support? The answer lies in the meaning of the letters. The letters mean the following:
- CS – this is the child support amount. Because the “equal” sign appears after the CS, this means that the other letters calculate to equal child support.
- K – this is the amount of both parents’ income allocated for child support.
- HN – this is a high earner’s net monthly disposable income.
- H% – this is the approximate percentage of time that the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared with the other parent.
- TN – the total net monthly disposable income of both parties.
Note that in the context of the guideline calculation, “high earner” does not mean that the person makes hundreds of thousands of dollars. It simply means the higher earner of the two parents.
The “H%” factor in the equation is important to the discussion on this page. In basic terms, it means that timeshare matters to the amount of child support. The more timeshare the high earner has, the less they pay in child support.
Interestingly, many parents argue for more custody simply based on the fact that they want to lower their child support obligation. In theory, this plan makes sense. In practice, however, parents that simply want to reduce their child support obligation by obtaining more timeshare with their child usually make a huge mistake. Several additional considerations should be undertaken by the parent before they vigorously fight for custody of their child solely on the basis that they want to reduce their child support obligation. Here are some reasons that parents might be making a mistake when trying to get more time with a child simply to reduce a child support obligation:
- Usually a parent that wants more custody or visitation with a child simply to reduce their financial obligation does not have the child’s best interests in mind and placing the child with that parent for additional time may not be the best thing for that child. This is why CCRC counselors often become upset when parents discuss “timeshare” or “my time” with a child during the mediation session.
- If spousal support (alimony) is at issue, as the amount of child support paid decreases the amount of spousal support increases (in many cases, depending of course on the financial circumstances of the parties). As a result, while a parent trying to decrease his or her child support obligation may achieve that goal, they will end up costing themselves more money because their spousal support increases (tax-deductibility notwithstanding) and they now have their child more time, which leads to the final reason…
- When a parent has a child in their physical care it can be expensive! Most people don’t realize, but the difference between child support orders when a parent has a 40% as opposed to 30% timeshare with their child, as an example, is not significant. However, the cost associated with having the child in their care that extra 10% of the time could be significant. The cost of diapers, extracurricular activities and food adds up and as children grow older, the amount of money it takes to raise that child in terms of feeding them, paying for haircuts, giving them spending money, paying for activities and so forth all increase. The Family Code at section 4053(g), for example, recognizes this fact: “Child support orders in cases in which both parents have high levels of responsibility for the children should reflect the increased costs of raising the children in two homes and should minimize significant disparities in the children’s living standards in the two homes.”
At our firm, many of our attorneys are parents too. We understand the difficulties of raising a child, and we know first-hand the cost involved. Not only do we bring extensive family law experience when representing a client, we have immense personal experience as well when it comes to family law matters. If you need help navigating through custody and support issues, contact our office today.