Parents often aim to keep their families intact, but despite their intentions, many parents decide to separate and share custody of their children. Raising a child can be costly, and it is not uncommon for one parent to seek financial support from the other. Even co-parents that have an amicable relationship may not always agree as to the best way to split time with their children during important events like holidays or who should bear the costs of transporting the child from one parent’s home to another. As such, it is smart for anyone who shares custody of a child to contact a seasoned San Diego child custody lawyer to assess their options.
One issue that commonly arises when parents share custody of a child and one parent is required to pay support, is that the obligor parent believes they are paying the other parent to care for their children and becomes resentful. In truth, it only appears that way on paper. The California Courts employ statutory child support guidelines to determine how much each parent should contribute to their child’s upbringing. In general, the guidelines dictate that the parent who earns more money should provide more money towards the costs of raising the child.
The California child support guidelines are based on a number of criteria, including:
- The amount of money that each parent earns or can earn;
- The total number of children each parent has;
- The quantity of time that each parent spends with the child;
- Each parent’s tax status;
- The cost of health insurance and which parent either directly or indirectly provides it;
- The cost of childcare, daycare, or school tuition; and
- The cost of uninsured healthcare.
The Court may, in exceptional situations, order an amount that differs from the child support guidelines; however, this is uncommon. In addition, if both parents agree that one parent does not need to pay child support or that one parent may pay a lower amount than dictated by the guidelines, both parents must sign an agreement, which must be approved by the Court.
For example, the non-paying parent may have health concerns that prevent them from working or consume a significant percentage of their salary. Parents may have additional grounds for not paying child support, but the Court must sign off on any agreement the parents develop. As with any matter pertaining to a child, the Court’s primary concern is what is in the child’s best interest.
Christmas Travel Costs
The cost of traveling between the parents’ houses may be factored into a Court’s child support order as well, depending on the circumstances. In many cases, the cost is calculated for each parent, and the parents either take turns covering the cost of travel or pay the percentage dictated by the child support guidelines.
Other educational or special needs may be included in child support payments or paid outside of the rules based on the percentage set by the criteria. Generally, a Court’s order with regard to travel costs would apply regardless of whether the travel occurred during the holidays or at another time.
In California, parents may have legal custody or physical custody of their children. Legal custody essentially refers to the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s care and upbringing. For example, a parent with legal custody of a child may have the right to choose where the child attends school and what medical treatment the child receives. Generally, the Courts will grant shared legal custody to parents. In some instances, a Court will grant a parent sole legal custody with regard to a single issue, like which religion the child practices, which may come into play with regards to time-sharing during holiday seasons.
Physical custody, which is the right to spend time with a child, can be divided in a variety of ways. One approach is for one parent to have custody of the children during the week, with the exception of one evening. The parents’ weekends are alternated. 50/50 custody, on the other hand, is becoming more common, especially if the parents live close to one another. It is not uncommon in San Diego Family Law Court to have the child or children with one parent Monday and Tuesday and the other parent Wednesday and Thursday and the weekends alternate for Friday through Sunday
Although it is rare, in some instances, the Courts will deem it necessary to grant one parent sole custody or limit the other to supervised visitation are two more sorts of time-sharing arrangements. If one parent is in jail or has been abusive to the children, the other parent may be granted sole custody. Similarly, if one parent has a history of violent behavior or substance abuse issues, supervised visitation is frequently required.
While most parents want to spend every holiday with their children, it is unlikely the Courts will permit them to do so. Instead, the Courts will typically order an arrangement in which the parents get to spend time with the children on alternate holidays. For example, during even-numbered years, one parent has custody of the child during Thanksgiving, while the other has custody of the child during Christmas. Then, during odd-numbered years, the custody arrangement is reversed. Other holidays and special days, such as the children’s and parents’ birthdays, may be incorporated into the time-sharing schedule as well.
Contact a Trusted California Family Law Attorney
Sharing custody of a child can be complicated, especially over the holidays, and it is smart for anyone with concerns about child custody, child support, and traveling during the holidays to contact an attorney regarding their rights. The trusted San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC take pride in helping parties navigate complicated custody disputes, and if you engage our services, we will work hard to help you seek your desired result. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential meeting.