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Considering child support in a joint custody arrangement

Whether it is due to constant disputes, substantial changes in their lives or irreconcilable differences, some parents fair better post-divorce. Although staying together for children is often practiced, divorcing for the children could be in the best interest of the child.

Child custody arrangements look very different from family to family. Many factors are considered when drafting the agreement, and oftentimes life changes cause the need for modification. One thing that is often true when it comes to child custody is that it can affect child support. The amount of money a parent is able to request is often determined by looking at the custody arrangement and how much time each parents spends with the child or children.

In cases of joint custody where each parent spends equal time with the children, it is often questioned whether a parent is still able to obtain support. Although it seems logical that if each parent spends equal time with the children no support should be needed, this is not often the case.

Courts or parents will often calculate the costs that each parent spends on the children. If one parent takes on the primary role of purchasing clothing and school supplies, the other parent would have to pay them support for those necessities. In addition, even though joint custody is established, if one parent is a primary earner, the one with the higher income could owe their ex-spouse child support so they could provide equal caregiving to the child in their custody.

One last thing that is used to determine if child support is owed in a joint custody situation is the number of overnights a child spends with each parent during the year. Although joint custody often aims for a 50/50 split, it typically does not work out to be an even split of time. A parent who has the kids more days during the year in a joint custody situation could request child support for the extra time they care for the child.

Source: Opposing Views, "How Does Child Support Work With Joint Custody?" Beverly Bird, Jan. 15, 2014

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