After a Santa Clara County divorce , some parents push for joint custody thinking that this will ensure they do not have to make child support payments. However, this is not always the case.
First, it is important to realize that there are many interpretations of joint custody. Depending upon parental work schedules and the travel time between homes, it may not be physically possible for the child to be in the care of each parent exactly 50% of the time. A 60/40 split is fairly common with joint custody arrangements. However, depending upon the incomes of each parent, child support may be necessary even if the parents have a precise 50/50 split in the amount of time they are caring for the child.
Child support in California is calculated according the formula CS = K[HN - (H%)(TN)].
The components of the formula are as follows:
- CS = Child support amount
- K = Amount of both parents’ income to be allocated for child support
- HN = High earner’s net monthly disposable income
- H% = Approximate percentage of time that the high earner has primary physical responsibility for the children
- TN = Total net monthly disposable income of both parties
If the high earning parent’s net monthly disposable income is significantly greater than the lower earning parent’s net monthly disposable income, child support may be ordered even if the parents are each physically caring for the child fifty percent of the time.
Deductions may also come into play when determining if child support would be ordered in a joint custody situation. Net disposable income is defined as actual gross income minus allowable expenses, including state and federal income tax liability, deductions for mandatory union dues and retirement benefits required as a condition of employment, deductions for health insurance for the parent and any child the parent is obligated to provide coverage for, and child support or spousal support being paid by court order for someone who is not the subject of the current child support order. Job related expenses are allowed as deductions under the court’s discretion.
Even if child support is not ordered, parents with joint custody may be required to share in the expense of employment-related child care costs or uninsured medical costs for the child. An experienced San Jose child support attorney can explain this in greater detail.