California Child Custody & California Child Support

When children are involved in a California divorce, courts are careful to take into consideration the needs and interests of the child or children when deciding California child custody and California child support issues. All courts prefer parents to amicably work out the details of raising their children together after a divorce. But when a court needs to get involved, usually when the parents can’t agree, the court will always look to the best interests of the child or children. Following are the California laws governing child custody and support.

California Child Custody:

California courts will do what is possible to lessen the emotional impact of a divorce on the children. If the parents cannot agree on a plan for custody, the courts will step in and establish a custody order that takes the following into account:
  1. The health, welfare and safety of the child(ren);
  2. Any history of abuse by one parent against:
    • any child related by blood or with whom he or she has had a care-taking relationship;
    • the other parent;
    • a parent, current spouse, cohabitant, or any other person with whom the parent is having a dating or engagement relationship;
  3. The nature and amount of contact with both parents;
  4. Any habitual or continual use of alcohol or illegal controlled substances by either parent.

California Child Support:

Child support in California is determined in accordance with the Income Shares Model for child support, where each parent's income is considered in relative proportion. The support amounts calculated from each parent then help decide which parent must pay the other in order to maintain the correct proportion and provide for the needs of the child.

These guidelines are not always followed, but a decision to follow a different standard will require supportive evidence showing 1) all the factors that affect the parties financial obligations differently, and 2) how applying a standard other than the Income Shares Model will more effectively preserve the best interests of the child.

The factors that can be considered here are numerous, including, but not limited to:

Monetary support provided for other family members, debts arising during the marriage for the child's benefit, imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed for the child's benefit, court-ordered payments for health care and education, for the child's benefit, children's independent financial resources (if any), education, training, and/or career opportunities of the parties and/or ability to pursue those things, and/or a written agreement between the parties including the amount of child support (if one exists).

See California Divorce Laws and Resources for child support enforcement resources.

A lawyer can help you sort through your rights and responsibilities when it comes to childrearing after a divorce, and serve as your advocate and/or counsel when negotiating a parenting agreement. You can find a lawyer at:

California Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
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