Who Pays Child Support With Joint Custody? 

In addition to establishing a parenting plan, parents who share custody can work with a legal professional to ensure that their child support obligations are handled in the best interest of their kids. However, many are surprised to find out that joint custody does not necessarily mean that one parent is free of child support. A parent’s income and the time spent with their children are important factors in determining the amount of child support they will owe. 

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In the past, calculating a reasonable child support amount was as simple as dividing a couple’s combined income by the number of children they were responsible for. However, as families become increasingly dual-income, determining a fair and equitable child support arrangement has become more complex. 

One way to determine an appropriate amount of child support is to use the state’s child support formula. The formula can vary from state to state, and some states will even use a hybrid approach to determine the correct amount. For example, the North Carolina Child Support Formula uses a formula developed by the Conference of Chief District Court Judges to determine the amount of child support a couple will owe. 

Similarly, the New York Child Support Standards Act uses a formula based on 7.65% of a parent’s gross income to determine the appropriate amount of child support a family will owe. While the state’s formula may be less complicated, the same rules apply. 

A few other considerations, such as the total number of overnight visits, the cost of raising a child and the total amount of income earned by each parent, are also taken into account. While the state’s child support formula has been shown to be effective, parents can’t just rely on the state’s calculations. Rather, the obligor and the obligée (the person receiving support) should both be prepared to put their best foot forward to achieve an amicable solution. 

When it comes to determining who pays child support with joint custody, the most practical solution would likely be to work with an attorney or divorce mediator. This allows both parties to maintain an open line of communication about finances and child care. Additionally, a parenting plan can be drafted to track expenses and help ensure that both parents are doing their part to raise their child. 

While it is not necessarily clear which of the two parents will be required to pay the most child support, the courts will err on the side of the custodial parent. If the parents are split 50/50, a judge will typically award one parent the primary custody, and award the other parent the lesser amount of child support. 

However, in the event of a 50/50 split, the parent who earns more money could be on the hook for child support. That is, if the other parent does not sock away enough money to make up the difference. Regardless, a court will still order a parent to pay child support, and the amount of the award will be reduced to provide both parties with an equal income.