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Characteristics of Shared-Placement Child Support Formulas Used in the Fifty States - page 32 / 54





32 / 54


Appendix Legal 3

In a recent case, the California court endorsed the principle that children should “share in their

higher-earning parent’s standard of living even while living with the other parent.”23 In In re the Marriage

of Judith George, the parents had a timeshare of 50 percent each and the father earned substantially more

than the mother; he had an annual income of $146,589 and she had an annual income of $58,240. The

trial court ordered the father to pay the mother $250 in monthly child support, a significant downward

deviation from the $1,457 guideline calculation. The trial court justified the reduction in child support on

the ground that mother was not paying 50 percent of her daughter’s costs. Father paid “all costs of

clothing, tutoring, education, sports, car expenses, allowance and auto and medical insurance, although he

has 50 percent of the timeshare.” Thus, the trial court concluded that a reduction in child support was

warranted because mother was not contributing to her daughter’s needs commensurate with her time with

the child.

On appeal, the support order was reversed in the mother’s favor. The California Court of Appeals

determined that a reduction in the child support award was not justified solely because the father paid

more to support the daughter in an equal-time case. When parents have unequal incomes, according to the

court, California law anticipates that they will make unequal contributions to their child’s support. Indeed,

California child support law expressly provides that “[c]hildren should share in the standard of living of

both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial

household to improve the lives of the children.”24

Though In re the Marriage of Judith George involved an equal time-share situation, California

law contemplates that the higher-earning parent will pay support even when s/he is the primary parent.

23In re the Marriage of Judith George, 2005 WL 120432, *4 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.). 24Id. (citing Cal.Fam.Code § 4053, subd. (f)).

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