Can You Share Custody Without Child Support?

by Beverly Bird
With shared physical custody, your children live with you roughly half the time.

With shared physical custody, your children live with you roughly half the time.

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Child support pays for the roof over your children's heads, the clothing they wear, the food they eat, and the heat that keeps them warm at night. If you're asking the court for shared or joint physical custody as part of your divorce, you and your spouse will each have your children roughly 50 percent of the time, and you'll provide directly for these costs when they're in your care. Often -- but not always, this eliminates the child support provisions in your decree.

Why Child Support May Be Necessary

Child support depends on both the costs of providing for your children, and the income that you and your spouse have available with which to meet their needs. If you and your spouse share physical custody, you'll each maintain a residence for your children, and you'll each pay for their needs directly on a roughly equal basis. Therefore, if you earn about the same, neither of you should owe child support to the other. If one of you earns significantly more, however, the parent with the greater income may have to pay child support to the other so that your children enjoy the same standard of living in both homes.

The Effect of Legal Custody

There are two types of custody – legal and physical. Physical custody relates to where the kids live, and legal custody involves which parent makes primary decisions regarding child-rearing and care. Joint legal custody is common, and it has no effect on child support because making decisions for your children doesn't incur costs.