Many California parents facing divorce fear losing custody of their children. In some cases, the fear is warranted. In other cases, it is not. One concern that is more urban myth than anything else is that the court will award custody to the parent with a higher income. A significant difference in parental incomes is not a factor considered by the court when deciding on child custody.
How Can Significant Differences in Parental Incomes Affect a Divorce?
- When parties facing divorce have significantly disparate incomes, the party with the lower income may fear this will hurt their chances due to the inability to obtain equivalent legal representation. In this situation, the party with the lower income should work with an experienced attorney. They may be able to petition the court for emergency spousal support or an order for the opposing party to cover attorneys fees, etc.
- Divorcing parents with significantly different incomes will also see the situation reflected in how the court awards both spousal support and child support.
What Happens When Parents with Significantly Different Incomes Share Custody?
When California parents share custody of their children, the court considers their incomes, the state of their joint custody arrangement, and other factors when determining child support. If parents have joint physical custody, the children spend a significant amount of time with each of their parents, and the parents’ incomes are close to equal, it is possible that neither parent will need to pay child support. When there is a significant difference between the incomes of the two parents, the parent who has the higher income will probably be ordered to make child support payments to the other parent or cover a more significant amount of the child’s expenses.