Child custody and support are two separate arrangements in California, but under the state’s timeshare custody rule, they impact one another.
When you and your spouse (or the court) create a custody agreement, one parent typically ends up with fewer hours per week than the other. This parent is the one who will be responsible for paying child support, but their total support obligation depends on how much time they spend. This time is known as their custody percentage, or ‘timeshare’ in California, and an experienced attorney can explain how the calculations work.
What Does Timeshare Custody Look Like?
To calculate the correct timeshare, you need to know the exact number of hours the children spend with each parent on an average annual basis. Below are a couple of examples of how the process works.
Kyle and Sharon have one child, who spends every other weekend with her father from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. Kyle also has her every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Every other week, Kyle’s schedule is different, so this is a bi-weekly schedule. There are 336 hours in every two-week period. There are 52 weeks in a year, and every other weekend results in 26 weekends per year. An entire year consists of 8,760 hours.
Based on the schedule above, Kyle is with his daughter for 82 hours every two weeks (62 weekend hours and 20 hours during the week). 82 hours divided by 336 equals 24.40. Kyle, therefore, has a 24.4% timeshare, excluding holidays.
Joyce and Angela have two children. Due to a demanding work schedule, Angela has them on the first and third weekends of the month from Friday at 6:00 pm until Monday at 8:00 AM. This means that she has 24 weekends a year with them, or 62 hours every two weeks. 62 hours multiplied by 24 weekends adds up to 1,488 hours. When divided by 8,760 hours, this comes out to 16.99. Angela, therefore, has a 16.99% timeshare, excluding holidays.
Common Timeshare Custody Arrangements
Although parents are free to create their own timeshare schedule based on work schedules and similar obligations, there are some custody arrangements that tend to be commonly used.
Alternating Weekends and One Evening a Week
This schedule is common when one parent has sole physical custody and the other parent gets visitation. In this arrangement, the custodial parent has 84% of the time with the child and the non-custodial parent has 16% of the time, not including holidays and special occasions.
Alternating Weekends and One Overnight Visit a Week
With this schedule, the evening visit is an overnight stay. Non-custodial parents have visitations every other weekend and a weekly overnight visit. Not including holidays or special occasions, the custodial parent has a 71% timeshare, and the non-custodial parent has 29%.
Alternating Weekends (Extended)
With this arrangement, the non-custodial parent has the child every other weekend, but the weekend lasts until Monday evening. Time-share percentages are 79% for the custodial parent and 21% for the non-custodial parent, not including holidays or special occasions. This arrangement often works for non-custodial parents who have a demanding weekday work schedule and/or travel frequently.
Other Factors Influencing Child Support in California
It is important to note that timeshare alone does not determine support. A court will also look at factors like the following:
- The annual gross income of each parent
- How many children you have with your ex
- The cost of health insurance premiums
- The number of dependents each parent has
- Child support paid to other children
The mathematical timeshare formula was developed to eliminate some of the guesswork involved in calculating child support. Furthermore, it helps ensure that court decisions on support obligations will be more uniform across the state.
There are many online calculators to help you estimate how much support you should be paying, but it’s always best to consult an experienced child custody lawyer to discuss your particular situation. Depending on the details of your case, it is sometimes possible to increase or decrease the amount arrived at by the mathematical formula, and your lawyer can advise whether such an exception may apply to you.
Talk to a Child Support Attorney in San Diego
When you’re facing divorce or legal separation in California, you may not understand or be prepared for your child support obligations moving forward. A child support lawyer at the Law Offices of Renkin & Associates can help you properly calculate how much you’re likely to pay, so that you can better plan for your child’s future as well as your own. For more information about timeshare custody or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.