Court Explains Timesharing and Child Support Under California Law

Many times when the parents of a child end their relationship, they will turn to the courts to decide issues of custody and child support. There are numerous factors that a court should consider in determining an appropriate custody arrangement and support obligation. For example, a court will typically evaluate how much time each parent spends with a child in calculating child support obligations. Recently, a California court discussed a court’s discretion, or lack thereof, in determining an appropriate support obligation, in a case in which timesharing that did not exist was accredited to the father. If you share custody of a child and you or your co-parent wish to seek child support, you should speak to a trusted California child support attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father were parents of a minor child. The mother sought child support, after which the court entered an order based on guidelines that required the court to determine the approximate amount of time the higher-earning parent spent with the child and use that number to calculate an appropriate support obligation. The trial court had attributed a twenty-nine percent timeshare to the father, even though for several years, he had no visitation with the child.

Reportedly, the mother appealed the order as it pertained to the periods in which the father did not spend time with the child, which was approximately five years. The court found in favor of the mother and ruled that the order must be recalculated based on the father’s actual timeshare of the child during the disputed period.

Timesharing and Child Support Under California Law

California appellate courts review child support awards for an abuse of discretion. In doing so, the court will review factual findings with regard to a child support award for substantial evidence. This requires a court to review the record in a light most favorable to the person who is not contesting the award and to presume every fact that could reasonably be derived from the evidence.

California law sets forth uniform statewide guidelines for calculating child support. Pursuant to the guidelines, child support obligations are derived based on the income of both parents and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. Courts are only permitted to deviate from presumptively correct guidelines to order a different support obligation in limited circumstances and can only do so after making specific factual findings. The court’s discretion is limited to that provided under the statute, however.

One of the key elements of the formula for calculating support is the timeshare, as when the timeshare of the higher earner increases the support obligation decreases. In the subject case, it was undisputed that the trial court used a twenty-nine percent timeshare for the father, despite the fact that he spent no time with the child for five years. Thus, the trial court’s order was reversed, and the matter was remanded for new calculations.

Speak to a Capable California Attorney

A court typically must abide by statutory guidelines in determining a child support obligation and deviations from the rules often lead to unjust results that can be challenged. If you need assistance with a child support matter, California child support attorney Ethan M. Weisinger can advise you of your rights and help you to seek a result that benefits both you and your child. You can contact Mr. Weisinger via the online form or by calling 925-258-2020 to set up a conference.

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