Generally, parents want to spend as much time with their children as possible. Unfortunately, when parents separate or divorce, their time with their children may be limited because they no longer live with them full-time. However, with shared or 50-50 custody in California, parents can spend as much time as possible with their children after a divorce.

What Is 50-50 Custody in California?

California courts encourage parents to develop a plan to share joint child custody of their children. The courts do not favor mothers or fathers in custody matters. It is presumed that children benefit from continuing a close relationship with their parents after a divorce unless the parent is unfit. A parenting plan defines the roles each parent plays in the upbringing of their children, including the time the parent spends with the child.

In California, 50-50 custody really refers to timeshare custody most of the time. It is the amount of custodial time each parent has according to the parenting plan.

Even though parents share joint custody, a child typically lives primarily with one parent. That parent is referred to as the custodial parent. Having a primary residence provides continuity and stability for a child.

The non-custodial parent is granted visitation with the child. If parents cannot agree to a visitation schedule, the court typically awards standard visitation. Standard visitation usually consists of the child spending alternating weekends with one evening or overnight visit each week with the non-custodial parent.

However, parents can agree to 50-50 custody in California. They might alternate weeks, so the child spends about 50% of their time with each parent. Parents could agree that a child spends four days each week in one home and three days each week in the other home. Another option could be alternating extended weekends with a weekly overnight visit.

Timesharing agreements are flexible. They allow parents to develop a child custody and visitation plan that meets the best interests of their children.

The agreements also include arrangements for birthdays, holidays, and special events. Parents with 50-50 custody may be able to work together to be present for most, if not all, special events and holidays so the child does not feel torn between parents.

How Does 50-50 Custody in California Impact Child Support Obligations?

Parents often assume that they do not pay child support payments if they share 50-50 custody. However, that assumption is not true. Child support and child custody are separate, though timesharing agreements impact child support obligations.

California uses standard child support guidelines to calculate the amount of support payments for each parent. The factors used to calculate child support include:

  • The income and resources of each parent
  • The number of children being supported
  • The cost of health insurance and uncovered medical costs
  • Daycare expenses
  • A child’s special needs
  • Child support payments for other children
  • The percentage of time each parent spends with the child

The time each parent spends with the child is a factor in child support calculations. That said, even if parents were able to work out an actual 50-50 timesharing arrangement, one parent may still pay child support payments based on the other factors.

Generally, the higher-income parent pays the child support to the other parent. The goal is to ensure the child’s expenses are met in both homes in a 50-50 custody arrangement. However, other factors could change how child support is calculated.

Is a 50-50 Custody Arrangement the Best Outcome for My Children?

Again, children benefit from spending time with each parent. However, for 50-50 custody to work, the parents must be flexible and get along. If you constantly fight with your child’s other parent, you might be unable to work together to make 50-50 custody possible.

If a child’s parent is unfit, the court may not grant split or joint custody. The judge can grant sole custody to a parent if they determine it is in the best interest of the child. The child’s best interest is the primary factor in California child custody matters.

When Should I Consult a Child Custody Lawyer About My Case?

Contact a child custody attorney as soon as you realize you might seek a separation or divorce from your spouse. Child custody matters are often the most contentious element of a divorce case. Hiring an experienced family law attorney early in the case can help protect your parental rights and your child’s best interests. 

Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108