How Does Child Support Work in Joint Custody Situations?

The American legal system insists that every parent (who has not given up their custody rights or had them taken away) must financially provide for their children. Most parents provide for their children by purchasing goods and services for them directly. Others provide for their children through child support payments. And still others participate in both of these forms of support. In fact, as joint legal and physical custody have become increasingly popular arrangements, more and more Americans both provide for their children directly during their parenting time and through child support payments ordered by the courts.


Child Support and Joint Child Custody


Each state has its own guidelines that govern the ways in which child support is ordered and enforced in joint custody situations. Oftentimes, the parent that houses a child for fewer days of the year is ordered to pay child support in an amount that comports with state regulations. Sometimes, when the parent who houses a child more often also makes more money, the parent who houses a child fewer days of the year receives support payments.


Although each state has child support calculation guidelines in place, special circumstances may warrant that a family’s child support situation be changed accordingly. An experienced family law attorney can help if parents have questions about calculating initial child support orders or modifying existing orders. Joint custody situations vary so significantly that no two child support scenarios are exactly the same. Some parents with joint custody have an arrangement that is closer to 50/50, while others could have 80/20 arrangements, etc. In addition, every parent’s financial situation is different, so it doesn’t make sense to assume anything about how your joint custody child support orders will be structured until you have spoken with an attorney. This is especially true if your child has special needs or requires special financial considerations that may or may not factor in to the structure of your support orders. For example, if your child is in private school or requires specialized medical care, these realities could impact your child support situation.


Legal Guidance Is Available


If you have questions about child support, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney today. Calculating initial child support orders and modifying existing orders can both be complex but necessary processes. Working with an experienced attorney will help to ensure that your child support orders are as fair as possible. It is important not to assume that your orders must be drawn in strict adherence to state-provided formulas. Exceptions to all significant child support calculations may apply in special circumstances. An attorney can help you explore whether your calculations should be altered due to your family’s unique situation.


Please ask questions upfront and as often as you need to moving forward. This is your family and nothing is more precious. An experienced family law attorney will treat your situation with the care and consideration it deserves, contact a family law attorney in Tampa, FL, like the offices of The McKinney Law Group, for help with these tough issues.