Can You Share Custody Without Child Support?

By Beverly Bird

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.

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Why Does a Parent That Doesn't Have Custody Have to Pay Child Support?


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Does the Number of Children Affect Child Support?

Child support is intended to provide for your children's basic needs – shelter, food and clothing – when you and your spouse divorce. Almost all states use one of two models, or formulas, to arrive at child support obligations. Your obligation typically increases with the number of children you have.

How to Prepare for a Custody Evaluation

If you and your spouse are contesting custody as part of your divorce, and the judge has decided that a custody evaluation is in order, you need to prepare yourself for a bit of a process. The evaluation is intended to help the judge determine the custody arrangement that is best for your children. These evaluations typically take several months and during that time, you'll probably lose sleep worrying about the outcome. It often helps to know what to expect, steps you can take to help move the process along and missteps to avoid.

Child Support Questions & Answers

When parents of minor children divorce, one certainty is that their decree or judgment includes provisions for child support. It explains who pays what to whom, and how much. It should detail when support ends, but it may still leave a lot of questions unanswered. The finer details usually depend on where you live and your state's laws.

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