Joint custody might not have been the norm in the past, but it is becoming more and more popular. This is great news for divorced parents who are eager to spend as much time as possible with their kids. For all its benefits, joint custody can complicate a pretty normal part of family law. If you share joint custody, should anyone be paying child support?
Your gut reaction might be to say "no." After all, if you and your ex are sharing parenting responsibilities equally, there is a chance that you could be spending equally as well. But you need to account for different incomes and different costs of living. It can be difficult for a child to stay in a safe home with one parent, and then go to his or her other parent's house where food might be scarce.
Yes, child support fits with joint custody
Even in households with two working parents, it is normal for one to earn more than the other. Parents with higher incomes usually pay child support after divorce. Say you earn more than your ex-spouse but also share 50/50 custody. The court will probably consider what you would pay in a custody arrangement with only one primary caregiver and order you to pay half that amount.
This is also important to remember if you take home less money than your ex-spouse. If you spend more than 50% of the time with your child -- such as 55 or even 60% -- you probably need more than just half of what your ex would otherwise owe. In general, courts really look at how much time a child is spending with each of his or her parents to figure out support payments in these situations.
Your child still deserves financial support
Divorce is stressful for everyone, kids included. It is pretty emotional for children to watch their parents split up. However, you can make this process much easier for your child. When either you or your ex pays child support, you are providing consistency and financial stability during an otherwise hard time. Child support payments can even positively impact kids in some of the following ways:
- School performance
- Social adjustment
- Sense of security
- Overall well being
In short, making sure that both you and your ex find a way to provide financial stability after divorce is usually in his or her best interest. And it is about more than just providing similar home lives, too. Child support covers far beyond basic necessities, including things like extracurricular activities. In fact, making sure your child can still participate in those activities is another way to give him or her a sense of normalcy.
What do I need to do?
You have a couple different options for getting the child support your kid deserves. If you are mediating your divorce, you can negotiate a support agreement with your ex. You can also leave this decision up to the court who will consider a number of different factors, including your incomes and the financial support you established during the marriage.
Of course you should not leave your child's well being and financial stability to chance. But there are many points during divorce in which you or your ex could make a mistake that drastically impacts your child support agreement. Whether you are negotiating your own agreement or planning to go to court, you need to be confident in the outcome. An experienced Arizona attorney can give you that confidence by supporting and upholding your rights along every step of the way.