Joint custody refers to the shared physical and/or legal custody of a child after the parents separate or divorce. In such cases, parents share in the daily responsibilities of raising the child(ren), including financial obligations. So, in short, the answer to this question is yes. Joint or shared custody doesn’t negate a child support obligation. Even if both parents share custody on a 50/50 or equal basis, one parent will inevitably owe some amount in child support. The only time this wouldn’t be the case is if both parents earn exactly the same income and spend exactly the same amount of time with the children, which is highly unlikely.
When determining child support obligations, courts handle joint custody arrangements differently, and every state follows a different model for calculating support obligations. When determining an agreement between parents, some parents maintain an oral agreement, which allows them to avoid paying child support when the child is not in a respective parent’s care. Additionally, some written agreements will specifically address when support is paid. However, many states do not allow the parent who is paying child support to stop paying when children are visiting or in their custody – that might be the case because a child’s ongoing needs, such as extra-curricular activities, doctor’s payments, or housing arrangements. Those types of payments will still need to be paid even when the child is not with that parent.
Factors Considered in Determining or Altering Support Obligations in Joint Custody:
- The ability of each parent to maintain separate housing for the child
- Extraordinary financial expenses that arise due to the joint custody arrangement (i.e. additional child care expenses, clothing expenses, or travel expenses)
There are several reasons why a parent should continue to provide child support in joint custody arrangements, but most importantly, child support payments generally provide an easier adjustment for children. These payments can have a positive effect on a child’s well-being, performance in school and overall social adjustment. Parents should try to make an agreement regarding child support in joint custody arrangements. Parents can develop a parenting plan to track expenses and maintain open communication if/when more money is a necessity. If parents are unable to effectively communicate, the court can make a determination as to appropriate child support payments in joint custody arrangements.
Divorce is hard on all parties involved, but can be especially difficult for the children of the individuals getting divorced. Our priority at the Alabama Family Law Group is to provide you with the best support possible, and to make sure that every aspect of your divorce is considered and is handled with the utmost care and respect, and that includes your family. If you need to obtain a divorce in the state of Alabama, please contact us – our lawyers are here for you. Give us a call today!