Difference between Child Custody and Child Support
California courts view child custody and child support as two distinct issues:
- Child support is based on a parent’s obligation to financially support his or her child.
- Child custody is based on protecting a child’s best interest.
In determining a custody arrangement that is in a child’s best interest, the court will generally consider a parenting plan that encourages frequent and continuing contact with both parents (unless there has been a history of domestic violence or abuse).
How Child Custody Impacts Child Support
With that said, child custody does have an impact on child support. This is because the support amount is affected by the percentage of time a child spends with each parent. Since child support is considered the non-custodial parent’s means of financially providing for a child, the support payments may be higher when one parent has minimal to zero contact. Conversely, the child support payments may be lower when each parent has roughly equal amounts of parenting time.
It is important to keep in mind that a parent may not refuse or limit the other’s parenting time if child support has not been paid. Although it may seem unfair to see a parent evade his financial responsibilities, a parent cannot deny the other parent his or her parenting time because of unpaid child support. The non-paying parent still has a right to see his or her child—regardless of whether that parent is up-to-date on his or her child support payments. The issue of non-payment of child support must be dealt with through the courts.
Child custody and child support issues can become complex when parents are unable to resolve their differences. Contact us today for a free confidential phone consultation so we can discuss your situation and advise you about the options available to you.