California Divorce Laws and How to File (2022 Guide) – Forbes Advisor

When a couple sharing minor children divorces, child custody and support are important considerations in divorce.

Childcare in California

In California, child custody matters are based on a legally binding parenting plan that determines where the child will live, when they will see each parent, and who has legal decision-making responsibility. If both parties agree on a parenting plan, the judge usually approves it, but the judge will order a plan themselves if they disagree.

In custody decisions, the court considers factors such as the parents’ ability to provide care and the child’s existing ties to home, school and community. There are two types of police custody which the court can rule on separately:

  • Physical custody: Determines who the child lives with most of the time and how the other parent will spend time with the child.
  • Legal custody: Who can make important decisions for the child. It is common for both parents to retain joint legal custody, regardless of physical custody. In California, parents generally must attend mediation with Family Court Services before a court order is issued.

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Alimony in California

Alimony is money paid by one parent to another to help cover the living expenses of their child. Each parent is responsible for supporting a child financially, and either parent can ask the judge to issue a child support order. In California, each county has a family law facilitator which helps self-represented parties in child support cases free of charge. The courts also offer this child support guide for parents.

As with custody, if divorced spouses cannot agree on the terms of child support, a judge steps in. Like the majority of states, California uses the income-splitting model to determine child support, which awards the child the same proportion of parental income they would receive if the marriage was still intact. This California Child Support Guidelines Calculator State child welfare services can help divorced parties estimate what might be ordered. Judges consider factors such as each spouse’s income and earning potential, how much time each spends with the child, child support from other relationships, and other expenses each may face.

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