How Does Joint Child Custody Work With Child Support?
When parents share custody of their children, it can be hard to imagine that the child support they owe each other could even be considered. While there is some truth to this notion, the fact remains that it is important for each parent to provide their children with food, clothing, and shelter — whether or not they have joint custody.
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One way that this can occur is by using child support guidelines, which determine what each parent owes to the other. The guidelines are based on how much time each parent spends with their children and the incomes of both parents.
Many states use the percentage of income model when determining how much each parent owes in support, although some state guidelines use a different model. Regardless of which method is used, the higher-earning parent will be responsible for paying a portion of the support amount to the lower-earning parent.
The other option is the fixed amount model, which looks at the parents’ combined incomes to determine the base amount of child support that each parent owes. In some cases, this can be an unfair result, and it is common for the courts to order a modification of child support when a change in circumstances occurs.
Another reason that a change in child custody might be necessary is when a parent moves to a new area or has a significant change in work schedule. If this happens, the court will need to evaluate each situation and make an appropriate decision.
If a parent moves, the non-custodial parent may be required to pay the cost of travel expenses associated with the move. This can include the cost of a car to get to the new destination, as well as gas, insurance, registration, and other fees associated with traveling by vehicle.
School-related costs are also a common item that is included in child support calculations, including the cost of school clothes/uniforms, tuition fees, textbooks, lunch money, private tutors, and more. Likewise, the cost of childcare and child care during holidays, summer months, and spring break can be included in a support calculation.
In addition to school-related costs, some states may allow child support to cover other costs related to a child’s education, such as extracurricular activities and camp. It can also be used to cover the cost of unreimbursed medical expenses or health insurance premiums for the children.
Some states have laws that require that each parent report their expenditures for their children, such as the cost of meals, clothing, and entertainment. Often, these reporting requirements are voluntary, but they can be an important tool for keeping track of expenses and making sure that the children’s needs are met.
The best part is that these accounts are kept in a separate file from the court’s child support records. This means that if one parent decides to stop paying, the other can be notified and can ask the court to enforce the obligation.