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Is There a Relationship Between Child Custody and Child Support?

People who are unfamiliar with the law sometimes have difficulty separating issues into individual components. They are accustomed to regular life, where one thing affects another, and situations blend. Some legal matters are linked by the same subject, but their outcomes are unrelated. This fact can be hard for some to understand.

For example, child custody and child support are separate matters. This article is here to help you understand the difference.

The Purpose of Child Custody

Custody is less about money and more about the child’s welfare. The court wants to make sure that the child is in the safest, healthiest environment. It always puts the needs of the children over the needs of the parents.

“Welfare” is a pretty broad term. The court considers several aspects of the child’s life when making custody decisions. It can consider anything; no detail is too minor. A parent’s job schedule, distance from the child’s school, living conditions, lifestyle, and more could all play a part.

When a parent has little to no custody, there is a reason. The court simply believes that the children are better off with only one parent. It may even assume that the children are not safe with the other parent.

The Purpose of Child Support

In a world run by money, a person’s finances are equal to their survival. Children can’t hold jobs, so they need someone to feed and clothe them.

This is where child support comes in. It makes sure the kids are financially protected, and it is not related to custody. The court could block someone from seeing their kids and still ask them to pay child support.

Generally, child support rulings are strictly financial. The court considers how much money each parent makes and the needs of the children. Then it decides what percentage of support each parent should pay.

This fact is key: Both parents pay child support. One directly spends money on the kids by living with them and taking care of them, and the other supplements that cost. When a parent who receives child support payments spends that money on themselves, they can suffer legal consequences.

When Do the Two Overlap?

A lack of child custody does not necessarily influence the need to pay support. Joint custody, however, does have a direct impact on child support payments.

In its child support rulings, the court considers how much time each parent has with the children. California uses a percentage system for parents who want custody. Parents can have a small percentage of time with the kids, or they could have the children 100% of the times.

The court assumes that whenever a parent has custody, they are spending money on the kids. It factors your percentage of custody into the overall formula, and it deducts that percentage from the total you must pay.


You are always free to plead for changes in either support or custody. For instance, if you are laid off and have trouble finding work, you could have your support payments altered. There are plenty of reasons to change a custody order as well. Perhaps you move closer to the children, have more adults around who can help, have a better relationship with the kids, and so on. Make sure you secure the services of a good attorney before making such a plea.

The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates is here to help with all your child support and child custody concerns. Whether you are not yet divorced, or you need to make some changes, we are on your side. Contact our office by calling (916) 299-3936 or filling out our online contact form.