Who Pays Child Support in Joint Custody?

who pays child support in joint custody

One of the first questions that come up in a divorce is about child support. Somebody has to pay for the children’s expenses and financial support which includes everything from school expenses to medical costs.

There are also various child support obligations. Who pays support to whom? This question is especially acute in joint custody. Read on to find out more!

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What Happens When Both Parents Have Joint Custody?

If your case involves shared physical custody, you’d probably want to know who must pay child support. Typically each parent still needs to pay his or her share of support. Even so, joint custody situations can be pretty complicated and parents are often confused about who pays child support.

This is where a joint legal custody arrangement comes into play. It’s founded on the concept of shared parenting, meaning the parents have to share their roles and responsibilities equally. In a situation where both parents share custody of a child or children, it is essential to establish a plan for paying child support.

However, it can be difficult to determine how much each parent should pay, as the court will take the income of each parent into consideration when calculating child support. If they cannot agree on the amount of child support, the court will make the final decision based on state guidelines, parent income, parenting time, and other factors.

What Factors Influence the Amount of Child Support in Cases Where Both Parents Have Joint Custody?

While child support laws differ from state to state, they are all aimed at making sure the standard of living children enjoy after divorce is the same as if their parents live together. Child support obligations are determined and calculated using one of two factors.

Percentage of Income Model

As the name suggests, this model uses a percentage rate of monthly earnings of a parent when determining child support obligations. While some states use varying percentage rates for the different income levels of the obligors, others retain the same, flat rate for every income level.

Income Shares Model

When determining child support obligations, this model takes into account the number of children as well as the parents’ combined monthly income. To get the obligation divided between parents, the court will use the proportional contributions of each parent to their combined monthly income.

Parenting Time

One of the factors that affect child custody is the amount of time. In many states, parenting time plays an important role in estimating monthly child support payments. If there’s a non-residential parent, it is necessary to address the amount of time the child spends with him/her in the parenting time orders or agreements.

The number of overnights parents have with their kids is also used by courts. Almost every court website has a parenting time worksheet or calculator that helps parents calculate how many nights they have during a year.

If the child support obligations should be modified, the equivalent care may also come into play. It’s time spent with the mother or father without overnight stays. Nonetheless, the parent is still required to spend about the same amount of money as if he/she was bearing the cost of an overnight stay.

Parent Income

What happens if parents have about the same monthly incomes and roughly equal allocation of parenting time? In that case, co-parents are usually exempt from paying child support.
However, before reaching a collaborative joint custody agreement, they need to make sure it will be in the best interests of their children. Most parents have different incomes, though. This affects the amount that must be paid as child support.

Related: Questions to ask a family lawyer during a consultation

Final Thoughts

When parents have joint custody, they want to know who should pay child support and how much it is. Every parent is supposed to know how his or her joint custody can affect the amount of child support he/she either pays or receives.

Whether you are a non-custodial or custodial parent, you need to know how child support is determined in joint custody cases. But with so many factors, it can be difficult to determine or calculate child support obligations. That’s why you should still consider consulting a trusted law firm or legal professional about your child support problems. It’s worth it!

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