How does credit for time work when a child is not physically with either parent?

divorce-attorneysIf you are a parent who is paying or sending child support, you probably have a solid understanding of what timeshare percentage entails. To briefly summarize, timeshare percentage is the percentage of time that a child stays with each parent, which is a factor that comes into play when the amount of child support payments is calculated. Although this concept might seem easy to work out once schedules and child custody/visitation rights have been determined, there are instances where the answer isn’t so clear-cut, such as when a child does not physically spend time with either parent.

Many people assume that the credit either still goes to the parent who is “scheduled,” or is split evenly down the middle. This assumption is incorrect! In California, primary physical responsibility trumps actual physical custody, something which all parents should take into account.

Primary physical responsibility: How it Works

Although the specifics can become a bit involved, the person for whom primary physical responsibility falls on can be determined via a few scenarios. A simple example is this: if a child falls ill during a school day, which parent will the school contact to come pick up their child? Although simplified, this scenario can help illustrate how primary physical responsibility is determined rather effectively.

Of course, the courts will take a more calculated and specific approach when making this distinction. This is why California courts have established factors that can help individuals determine who primary physical responsibility is assigned to. These factors include:

  • Being directly or financially responsible for the child’s transportation
  • Being responsible for tuition and other school expenses
  • Being designed as responder in the case of medical issues or emergencies
  • Being involved in school activities and school-related functions

Remember, these are general guidelines. When it comes to issues without rigidly-defined processes, California courts can express quite a bit of discretion in their decision-making. This is why it’s important that you take it upon yourself to report and bring up these factors, as well as any other potentially-relevant factors, in court. This is what makes having the assistance of a skilled legal professional so important when dealing with such matters.

At Rubin & Levavi, P.C., we help our clients navigate all matters related to establishing and determining primary physical responsibility, as well as other child custody and divorce issues in California. To learn more about how we can help you, call our law offices today.