Getting a Divorce? Here is What You Need to Know About Custody and Child Support

If you and your partner are planning to separate, it's time to start talking about how you'll handle the issue of custody. While discussing where your child will live can be uncomfortable, it's important to have this discussion early on so that both you and your partner will understand exactly what to expect as you transition to this new period of your lives. Keep in mind that custody issues are rarely simple. It's natural for you and your partner to disagree on how you'll divide custody and how your child's life will look moving forward. There are a few things you need to know about custody and child support, however. Remember that when you and your partner focus on your child, you'll be better equipped to make healthy choices that benefit your little one.

Physical Custody

When people talk about custody after a divorce, they're usually referring to physical custody. This is who the child lives with. After a divorce, you and your partner may share physical custody of the child. For example, your child might live with you during the week and your ex-spouse on the weekends. Your child might live with you one week and your former partner the next. The arrangement you come up with will vary based on your lifestyles and current living situation.

Legal Custody

If you or your former spouse is granted sole physical custody of your child, understand that the other party may still receive legal custody. Legal custody grants them several benefits and essentially means they can be involved in your child's life. For example, a parent with legal custody will have a say in the child's medical decisions, as well as in their education.

Child Support

Child support is a factor of the time a parent spends with the child relative to the other parent, and the income of each parent. If the incomes of each parent are equal, but one parent has more parenting time, then the parent with more parenting time may be entitled to child support. Alternatively, if the parenting plan is equal, but one parent earns more income than the other parent, then the higher earner will pay child support to the lower earning. Family Code Section 4058 provides a good summary of the California legislature's intent when formulating child support guidelines.

When you're ready to separate from your partner, make sure you meet with an attorney who can answer your questions about divorce, child support, and child custody. Your lawyer will help guide you as you move forward with your decision and can offer you support, insight, and information along the way.