California parents who are separating or divorcing must work with the court during the proceedings to establish custody and child support. According to the California support guidelines, visitation and parenting time has a direct influence on how much child support is paid or received. Using an inaccurate parenting time total can lead to unfair or inaccurate payments.
California Parenting Time
Each state has slightly different methods of determining visitation between parents and children. In California, the total time spent with the children is the annual parenting time percentage.
For example, if the non-custodial parent spends alternate weekends and half of all holidays plus four summer weeks, it would total 20 percent of the year. Adding just two weeks puts the percentage at 24 percent. Half days, extended evening visits and other lengthy visits that aren’t overnights also contribute to the parenting time total.
Counting Up Parenting Time
Once divorcing parents agree on a custody schedule, it’s time to count up the visitation hours in order to establish child support. There is no single way to do this, but some methods are easier than others and produce more accurate results.
Parents must count up all the hours in the custody schedule when they will be spending with the children. This total is then divided by 8,760 hours. The answer is the timeshare percentage needed for the California support formula.
Ways to Calculate California Parenting Time
There are three ways to count up parenting time:
- Count manually
- Custody schedule software
Estimating timeshare percentages means that parents use various California visitation charts. These charts provide visitation scenarios with entries such as “Alternate weekends plus one evening per week” and then a corresponding percentage, such as “28.49 percent.” Estimates can eliminate the time and frustration of counting up actual hours, but are generally inaccurate when compared to actual time spent. Estimates also don’t usually account for non-traditional weeks, such as holidays, vacations, illness, special events or third party time.
Counting manually provides a more accurate number than estimating. Parents can look at the custody schedule and add up all the hours of parenting time. Every visit counts, whether it’s during a weekday, vacation or other visit. It can be time-consuming to count hundreds of hours in a year, and counting manually increases the risk of human error and addition mistakes. If the schedule changes even by a few days, it can affect the total so parents must start all over again.
Custody scheduling software allows parents to create a custody schedule on the computer, with accurate timeshares down to the hour. As parents create the schedule, the program counts up all the visitation hours for each parent. If the parents make a schedule change, the tally is automatically recalculated. Custody software lets parents know exact totals for visitation quickly and accurately.