It seems sensible that if parents share joint custody of children, neither should have to pay support. However, it usually does not work that way. The higher-earning parent must often make cash contributions to the other parent’s household finances, albeit at a lower level than in non-joint-custody situations. If both parents earn almost the same amount, a Child Support Attorney in New Market may be able to help them reduce or eliminate child support payments.
Physical vs. Legal Custody
One issue with determining joint custody’s effects on child support is that the terminology can be very confusing. In many jurisdictions, joint custody means the parents have shared legal custody, which has no bearing on child support. Legal custody merely sets rules for decision-making on the children’s behalf, and it does not affect the cost of raising the children. Physical custody agreements do have effects on child support, and many jurisdictions refer to them as joint parenting time or shared custody.
Another problem is that shared parenting isn’t always 50/50. Some jurisdictions consider this by setting a minimum overnight stay requirement. In these cases, custody arrangements usually mean a child spends two-thirds of the time with one parent and one-third with the other parent. Although this is regarded as shared physical custody, the parent who has the children more often incurs additional costs for their care. It would be illogical and unfair to cut out child support in such arrangements.
Some areas break support into three segments based on what it’s intended to cover. Part of the support goes to recurring, fixed expenses such as utilities, rent, or mortgage payments. Variable expenses tend to increase when the child is at the parent’s home, and they include things such as groceries. Controlled expenses are at the parent’s discretion, and they include things such as entertainment and clothing. State law assumes that controlled expenses are the responsibility of the parent with primary physical custody. However, in shared parenting arrangements, both parents incur such costs.
Child support is a contentious matter for many parents, especially in cases where the divorce wasn’t amicable. For case-specific information from a Child Support Attorney in New Market, clients can contact Russell & Heffner LLC by phone or online.