Child custody and child support are two separate and distinct ideas. However, child support calculations are often dependent on custody arrangements. While custody is not the only factor that will impact child support calculations, it is one of the most important things to consider.
Generally speaking, the parent who spends less physical time with their child will be responsible for paying child support. The less time that parent spends with the child, the higher that child support obligation will be. The amount of time a parent has custody of his or her child is known as “timeshare” or “custody percentage.”
Why is Timeshare Important?
It’s important to accurately calculate each parent’s custodial timeshare. Why? Timeshare is an important factor in a complex child support calculation formula. Support calculations are affected by timeshare calculations, down to the hour. Parents must be very diligent in making sure that they accurately report how much time they spend with their children.
If one factor is not entered correctly, it will adversely affect the end result. Put another way, calculating timeshare incorrectly could cause a child to receive less financial support than they really need. Since support can be critical for ensuring that a child is properly cared for, this could be devastating to a child.
How is Timeshare Calculated?
So, how exactly is timeshare calculated? In California, there is a handy formula that can be used to help parents calculate timeshare. Again, it is important to be very specific and detailed when calculating custody percentage.
Here’s an example to illustrate this importance:
Jim and Sue decide to share custody of their child, Sam. They agree that Sue will be the custodial parent with whom Sam spends most of her time. Sam will spend one weekend every month with Jim. For the purposes of timeshare, a “weekend” begins on Friday afternoon and ends on Sunday evening. Since Jim earns more money and spends less time with Sam, he agrees to pay child support.
When calculating child support obligations, Jim explains that he spends one weekend a month with Sam. As a result, he has a custody timeshare of 6.58%. This number will be entered into a complex equation to calculate how much child support he’ll be required to pay.
Now, let’s say that Sam starts to spend Sunday evenings with Jim, as well. This isn’t what’s listed in the custody agreement, but it is what Sam wants. Jim is spending more time with Sam, so his timeshare should be increased. In fact, that extra evening extends Jim’s timeshare to 9.86%. If Jim doesn’t mention that he has additional visitation with Sam, his child support will remain unchanged. However, if Jim explains that his timeshare has increased by more than 3 percent, his child support obligations will likely be reduced.
Popular Custody Arrangements and Timeshare of Non-Custodial Parent
Every child custody arrangement will be different. In most cases, parents will do whatever it takes to strike a balance that is in the best interest of their child. As a result, certain custody arrangements tend to be more popular than others. Here are a few examples of popular custody arrangements and the resulting timeshare of the non-custodial parent.
Parents who split amicably, or who are truly interested in finding an arrangement that is best for their child, may agree to split custody right down the middle. Since there are typically 365 days in a year, it is difficult to divide custody directly in half. However, many parents will create an arrangement that gets as close to 50/50 as possible.
The best way to achieve 50/50 custody is for the child to live with the non-custodial parent 3 days one week, followed by 4 days the next week. This continues for the duration of the year. When parents split custody in this way, the non-custodial parent has a timeshare of 49.99%.
Two Weekends Per Month
Sometimes both parents cannot realistically be around half of the time. One popular custody arrangement is for the child to spend two weekends per month with the non-custodial parent. Again, weekends begin on Friday evening (5 PM) and end on Sunday evening (5 PM). In these arrangements, the non-custodial parent has a timeshare of 13.15%. If those weekends become extended, the non-custodial parent will have a timeshare of 19.73%.
Alternating Weekends, Holidays, and Summer
Child custody arrangements can become more complicated when holidays and summer breaks are thrown into the mix. Parents who are negotiating custody arrangements are encouraged to plan ahead and anticipate which holidays and vacations they’ll want to spend with their child. Remember, each additional hour a parent spends with a child, the greater that parent’s timeshare. The greater the timeshare, the less in child support that parent will likely have to pay.
One popular custody arrangement permits the non-custodial parent to be with the child on alternate weekends throughout the year, plus one-half of all holidays, as well as one month during the summer. In this scenario, the non-custodial parent would have a timeshare of 23%. In other words, the parent spends nearly one-quarter of the year with their child.
Get Help Designing Your Child Custody Plan
Parents who are getting divorced should put a lot of time, energy, and thought into designing a child custody plan that works for the entire family. Even though you may be getting a divorce, you are still a family. It’s also important to design your plan down to the hour so that child support obligations can be calculated correctly. The last thing you’ll want is for your child to get less financial support than he or she needs to thrive.
Contact the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates to find out how we can help you design a custody plan that works for you. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call us now.