May 26, 2022
Child support cases can be one of the most contentious legal processes. Any divorce lawyer can tell you that even the most amicable separations are challenging.
When the separating partners have a child, the potential for disagreements is high. Joint custody is when both parents share the responsibilities associated with caring for their child each day.
This is one of the most typical custody arrangements following a break-up or divorce. Still, many parents do not understand how custody arrangements can influence child support payment requirements.
Below, we will examine how joint custody arrangements can affect which parent is required to pay child support. If you have specific legal questions about your circumstances, reach out to a knowledgeable divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Can Parents with Joint Custody Owe Child Support?
Yes. Parents with joint custody may still owe child support. Joint physical custody arrangements do not automatically negate the need for support payments.
When one of the child’s parents has sole physical custody, the other will typically need to make support payments.
This money assists with the costs of raising the child, such as:
- School supplies
- Medical care
Often, parents who share physical custody also share the financial expenses of raising the child. Still, each state’s child support statutes apply to all parents
Although judges have the legal ability to make exceptions in cases involving joint physical custody, this is not a guarantee. In most cases, the courts will rely on the standard formula for determining appropriate child support payments.
Methods to Calculate Child Support Obligations
Child support orders guarantee that children experience the same care they would if their parents were together. Most states determine support payment obligations in one of two ways.
These two methods are the income shares model and the percentage of income approach. The approach that your state relies on will influence the amount of support owed in your case.
Income Shares Approach
This method of calculating support obligations revolves around the collective income of both parents and the number of children. The court will examine each parent’s monthly financial contribution in light of the parents’ total income to determine payment obligations.
Delaware, Montana, and Hawaii also require the courts to determine the parents’ ability to meet their own material needs when calculating child support requirements.
Percentage of Income Approach
Some states calculate child support in relation to a specific percentage of each parent’s monthly income. The relevant percentage is determined differently in different locations.
For instance, some states determine the relevant percentage in terms of the number of children. Others have a flat rate percentage, regardless of the parents’ financial statuses.
Speak with a knowledgeable divorce attorney to understand the method for calculating support payment requirements in your case.
Factors that Influence Support Orders
While there are standardized formulas for determining the amount of child support owed, each case is distinct. For this reason, speak with a divorce attorney who has experience with a range of cases.
A knowledgeable divorce lawyer will review the circumstances in your case and determine the best course of action.
Some of the factors that influence child support orders include:
Time Spent Parenting
The court will account for the time you spend taking care of your child when determining a support arrangement. A common way to assess parenting time is overnight visits.
The assumption is that when the child stays overnight, the relevant parent is financially responsible for their needs. Some courts provide online calculators to help parents determine the time that they spend caring for their children.
Some courts also account for equivalent care. This term refers to visitation time that does not include an overnight stay but includes the amount of support and parenting.
Income and Financial Status
One of the most impactful factors in any child support case is each parent’s income. In some cases, neither parent will owe support to the other.
This typically occurs when parents share the same visitation time and have similar incomes. This can also happen if the parents mutually agree to forego support payment obligations.
No matter what the circumstances, the court’s job is to ensure an arrangement in the child’s best interests. The parents alone cannot decide to avoid child support payments.
Differences in financial status and income will influence the amount of support that parents owe. The factors that influence child support orders are complex. Because of this, it is critical to have a divorce lawyer help with your child support case.
Barriers to Gaining Physical Custody
In many cases, judges prefer to order joint physical and legal custody. Again, the court’s job is to rule in the child’s best interests.
But in some cases, the child’s best interests are served by rewarding one parent with sole custody. For instance, a parent will not receive custody if the court believes that the child may face neglect, maltreatment, or endangerment.
Other reasons for denying physical custody to a parent include:
- Incarceration or imprisonment
- Relocation to another geographical area
- Histories of domestic violence
- Alcoholism or drug abuse
- Severe mental health concerns
Judges account for these circumstances when awarding custody and assign support payment obligations.
Contact a Skilled Family Law Attorney
To explore how your child support payment obligations will be determined, reach out to a knowledgeable legal professional. Whether you have joint or sole custody, a family law attorney can review the facts of your case and fight for you.
Some people believe that child support orders are unchangeable. This view is mistaken. If your family’s circumstances change, you can request a child support order modification with the help of a skilled legal professional.
When you have questions or concerns regarding custody decisions, call a divorce lawyer as soon as possible!