Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I Have Joint Custody?

Divorcing with children has some serious additional layers of complexities that other divorces do not have. The issues of child custody and child support can fundamentally impact a family in far-reaching ways. If you are considering divorce or divorce proceedings are looming in the not-so-distant future, you may have a variety of questions. If you and your soon-to-be former spouse have children together, many of those questions may relate to child custody and child support. The two issues are related and many people wonder whether or not child support will be ordered if a joint custody arrangement is in place. Let’s take a look at the answer to that question here.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I Have Joint Custody?

Joint custody, split custody, equal time-sharing, or 50/50 custody or time-sharing are many common terms heard in a divorce case with minor children. 50/50 time-sharing is not required under Florida law, but it is a good starting point to consider when your divorce case begins by asking yourself, “why shouldn’t my spouse have 50/50 time sharing with our child?”. That means that, barring extenuating circumstances, such as any evidence that may make one parent unsuitable, like a history of child abuse, among other things, the courts in Florida will usually lean towards a joint or equal time-sharing arrangement. While it is sometimes referred to as 50/50 custody, joint custody does not necessarily mean that parenting time each week is split precisely down the middle. In fact, many co-parents come to find an overnight schedule where the weekly parenting time is not split in half but comes out to be equal over the course of the months and years.

Because Florida courts tend to favor joint custody arrangements, the question of how this can impact the child support calculation comes up frequently. Many mistakenly believe that joint custody means that no child support will be ordered. This is simply not the case. Florida Statute dictates how child support is calculated. The primary factors in the calculation include the income level of the parties after taking allowable deductions and the number of overnights each party will have with the kids. Generally speaking, the non-custodial parent, the parent who has less parenting time with the kids, will be the one to pay child support. The custodial parent, as the parent spending the majority of the time with the kids, is generally assumed to be providing direct financial support to the children during their parenting time.

While parenting time is a primary factor in the child support calculation, level of income and other factors do come into play. That is why calculations using the child support guidelines can yield a result where one parent in a joint custody arrangement must make child support payments to the other parent. Sometimes, the amount is very small and both parties agree to waive the obligation.

Where no child support is ordered or the minimal child support amount is waived by both parties, then there will not need to be any child support payments in the joint custody arrangement. There will, however, likely be other financial necessities that come up relating to the children. Co-parents often put agreements in place which address such things as who will pay for certain expenses relating to the child, such as extracurricular activities, and how these payments will be made. Clarifying these kinds of things sooner rather than later can help ease the discomfort of addressing them later on.

Orlando Family Law Attorneys

For more answers to your divorce questions, talk to the knowledgeable team at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.