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How do different child custody arrangements affect child support?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Child Custody, Child Support

When parents decide to part ways, one of the critical aspects they must address is child custody. Determining the living arrangements for the children is a complex process that can have significant implications.

The way you and your co-parent handle child support is one of those implications. Understanding how different child custody arrangements influence child support can help parents navigate this challenging situation.

Sole physical custody

Physical custody refers to where the child resides the majority of the time. In cases of sole physical custody, where the child lives with one parent most of the time, the noncustodial parent typically pays child support to help cover the costs of raising the child. The amount is often calculated based on the noncustodial parent’s income and the child’s needs.

Joint physical custody

Joint physical custody, where the child spends a significant amount of time with each parent, may result in a different child support scenario. In such cases, the court may consider the income of both parents and the time the child spends with each. This could lead to a reduced child support obligation for the parent with fewer custodial responsibilities.

Legal custody

Legal custody pertains to decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing. These include decisions relating to education, healthcare or religious matters. While it does not directly impact child support calculations, it can indirectly influence financial responsibilities. For instance, if one parent has sole legal custody, they may bear the sole financial burden of decisions related to the child’s education or medical expenses.

Impact of custody modifications

Child custody arrangements are not always set in stone. Life circumstances can change, and modifications may be necessary. If there is a significant change in the custody arrangement, it can affect child support obligations. A parent who gains more custodial time may seek an adjustment in child support to reflect the increased responsibilities they now bear.

In 2021, the child support program collected $32.7 billion. This figure goes to show how many individuals are paying child support, but it also brings to mind the reality that not all child custody and support plans are alike.