How do I calculate timeshare? And the related question, why do I need to?

California’s child support calculation statute relies on income and timeshare to determine the appropriate amount of child support owed by the noncustodial parent (the one who has less than 50% timeshare; or, where both parties have an equal timeshare, the parent who makes more money). If you’ve ever been in court and heard the judge or an attorney talk about “the h factor”, this is just another term for timeshare. The phrase “h factor” derives from the portion of the statute that lists the various factors the court is to use when calculating child support.  Timeshare is at subsection h.

Now, you *can* just estimate your timeshare but unless you do that for a living your estimate is probably off. Sometimes it’s very off. Many times, even attorneys who practice family law for a living will estimate timeshare incorrectly if they don’t sit down and actually do it the long way.

Find whatever court order sets out your timeshare with the children. Do you have it? Good. Now, do you have the same schedule every week? Does it change between the school year and the summer? Or do you have a schedule that alternates weeks? Do you have a copy of your holiday and vacation schedule? If not, you’ll need that too.

If your schedule is the same every week (and either you don’t have a vacation and holiday schedule or it’s the exact same for each parent) calculate how many hours you have the children each week. For example, if you have the children from Monday at 9 a.m. through Wednesday at 9 a.m. and again Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., you would calculate your timeshare as follows: Monday through Wednesday is 48 hours. You have them 9 hours on Saturday. 48 + 9 is 57. Since your schedule is the same every week and there are 52 weeks in a year you take 57 x 52 = 2,964.  Then divide that sum by the total number of hours in the year (8,760). The resulting figure is your timeshare percentage. How this is affected by your holiday / vacation schedule is addressed below.  If you don’t have such a schedule or it’s pretty much the same for both parents, you have now calculated your timeshare and you are done. If not, keep reading.

If your schedule changes based on when the children are in and out of school, your calculation will be a bit more complicated. First, figure out how many hours per week they are with you during the school year.  Then do the same for summer. Then, figure out how many days in total you get on top of that schedule for holidays.  There are generally 37 weeks of school, 3-4 weeks of break (Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Break), and 39-40 weeks of summer vacation.  The resulting sum is how many hours over the course of the entire year the children are with you. Again, divide by 8,760. 

If you have different timeshares for different children, you calculate each child’s timeshare separately. This usually happens in one of two different situations. Either there has been a rift in the parent-child relationship or there is a large difference in ages between the children. For example, a 17 year old whose parents are just now separating is probably not going to split their time between two houses. Most of the time they will stay in whatever house they have lived in the longest with whatever parent happens to keep that house. An older teenager is probably going to pick their own timeshare and although you will still have to pay child support based on the amount of time that the older teenager wants to visit.  Once you have figured out the correct timeshare for each child the court will either manually enter your different timeshares with each child or they will use the average of the timeshares. Manually entering each timeshare is most accurate.

If you have a vacation or holiday schedule with your children that does not give equal time to the other parent, determine how many total days the holiday schedule gives you.  Deduct that many days from your calculation of year-round timeshare.  For example, using the same schedule as above if you also had three weeks of vacation with the children every year you would multiply your weekly timeshare by 49 (52 weeks in a year minus your three weeks of vacation) then add 3 solid weeks of time with the children (3 weeks x 7 days a week x 24 hours a day).  

If your holiday schedule just gives you an extra day here and there, it’s safe to estimate that your holiday schedule will probably only add between 1 and 2% to your total timeshare.