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Can I pay or receive child support if we have 50/50 custody?

This week I’ve received the same question a few times: Can I still pay, or receive, child support if we have 50/50 custody? The short answer is it depends. Most people assume 50/50 custody cancels out the need to pay or receive child support and that’s incorrect. It does not and I know, you’re so sick of hearing “it depends” from lawyers but here’s why I say that. It depends on a few things.

First, is there a true 50/50 custody arrangement? This means, in a 2-week period, does each parent have seven overnights? It it’s anything less than 7 overnights for every 2 weeks, you don’t have a split custody (i.e. 50/50 custody arrangement). If your answer to this is yes, the next question is:

Second, are you the custodial parent? Yes, even if there is split custody, there is usually a custodial parent designation. In a split custody arrangement, the designation is usually useless but if the parents live in different cities, someone must be designated parent of primary residence because that would be used to determine which school district the child would attend. Regardless of whether your answer to this is yes or no, the next question is:

Third, who makes more money? Sadly, it comes down to the money. Even if you have a split custody arrangement, if you are the non-custodial parent and are making $50,000 and she is the custodial parent and making $25,000, the sad truth is that you will still be required to pay some child support. Even if it’s vice versa and you make more but you are the custodial parent, she would have to pay some amount of child support but it would be very small.

You are probably still wondering how this could be, that even with split custody, you could face the possibility of paying child support. It’s because child support is a numbers game. Its calculated using the parties’ incomes, the number of overnights and a few other items, but the income and overnights have the most significant impact on it.

Not sure if would have to pay child support in your situation? Use the online child support calculator here. Please note it’s basic and does not include all the potential deductions but it would at least give you an idea.

Need more help? Call me at 609-892-8773 to schedule your consultation!

The contents on this blog entry are provided for informational purposes only. You should consult with an attorney to determine how the law applies to the facts of your particular case.

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