I HAVE TO HAVE FIFTY-FIFTY CUSTODY! (So I don’t have to pay support…)If I had a dollar for every time that I hear in my cases, I would be taking a nice long vacation in Hawaii. Ususally, this statement is said once during the initial consultation becuase immediately the client hears that this is not the law at all. Most important: Making this sort of comment during mediation-let alone in front of the judge-does not play well in court.
First: TIME SHARE- The amount of time each parent has the care, custody, and control of the child is of course important in determining the amount of child support to be paid, but it is only one of mnay factors that the Court considers.
Second: The factors that the COURT MUST consider along include with regard to timeshare include the filing status of each party, the marital status of each party, actual income of each party, support paid by either party for another child, alimony paid by either party to a former spouse, union dues, health insurance costs, mortgage interest deductions, real property tax paid on a residence, and day care cost. There are also other factors that the COURT MAY consider such as costs of raising a child of another relationship, travel costs of visitation, cheriable deductions, unreimbursed necessary job expenses, ect.
Third: Whether parties share the custodial time should NEVER be decided on the ground of trying to increae the amount of child support that you will be paid or decrease the amount of child support that you will pay. I work hard with my clients to think through and plan a custodial time that makes sense for the children and the parties, and one which the Courts are likley to back…if it does not make sense , and it is not practical, then do not go there.
Fourth: Insisting on fifty-fifty when it does not make sense always backfires. Court mediators, attorneys, psychologist, and judges are quick to pickup on a party’s real motivation for insisting fifty-fifty - opposing it. Always remember that these folks see family court litigants day in and day out. They really can read you and your ex.
Fifth: Insisting on fifty-fifty without thought as to the children’s best interest will damage the relationship further between the parties- and with the children. I see fifty-fifty custodial arrangements fail sooner or later because the kids usually do not want to participate by the time they get to that "certain age." The tugs of war between the parents destroy the kids. Think back to your own childhood if you are the child of divorced parents. We really do not want to repeat the mistakes of our parents.
SIxth: On the other hand, a fifty-fifty arrangement may just be perfect for you and your ex. How do we know? This is where your ability to compromise, agree, work through conflicts, and COMMUNICATE with each other in productive ways comes in. Ask yourself: "Can we peacefully discuss our children’s issues, compromise and reach agreeements now? "Am I willing to put away my pride, to work it out for the benefit of the kids?" "How well can I handle ongoing conflict with my ex?" These are the sort of discussions that I have with my clients, when we work out a parenting plan.
Child custody is a rewarding and fascinating part of my work with my clients. We work hard at obtaining the best results for the client while keeping in mind the realities of child support obligations. I look forward to meeting with you personally and answering your individual questions in this highly complex and confusing area of law.
Olga Fabrick is an Upland child custody lawyer and is a California certified family law specialist.