When parents in California divorce, custody battles are a common part of the process. They entail lawyers battling over the schedule and details of the custody agreement, and that sometimes affects other parts of the divorce settlement as well.
Income and Custody
Income has a complex effect on custody battles. On the one hand, income from each parent is not something that the judge thinks about when deciding on a ruling, so it has no direct impact on the outcome. On the other hand, the legal costs of carrying on a child custody case can add up over time, and the parent with more income will have greater legal resources to deploy. To make things more complicated, if the parent who makes less money is awarded primary custody, the judge will likely also add on spousal support or child support for them that the other parent will pay.
This can increase the stakes of a custody battle, because it means that there is now also a flow of money to fight for. The judge will rule in a way that benefits the child the most, so they will consider stability, ease of scheduling, minimal disruption, whether the parent was the primary caretaker, and other factors. Child custody battles typically involve both parents making the case that they deserve to be the primary according to the criteria that the judge will use.
A child custody battle can be contentious because the outcome affects not only time with the child, but also the possibility of one parent paying child support to the other if their income is lower after the split.