Is there any type of situation where both the mother and the father provide financial support for the child while in their care, as opposed to paying child support? This is a question asked by many separated parents when questions arise about custody and the support of a child. In this situation, neither parent would ever have to pay the other any type of support, but would each individually cover their child’s expenses separately.
The effect of joint custody on finances really depends on the nature of the joint custody arrangement. If the parents have joint legal custody (by which they share making major decisions regarding the child), that by itself will have little effect on child support. One parent still has primary custody of the child and handles payment of most of the child’s day-to-day expenses. The custodial parent’s expenses for the child have not been reduced by the joint custody arrangement.
The obligation of one parent to pay child support to the other parent is mandated by law and the amount mostly depends on the parties’ respective incomes (or an earning capacity assigned by the court if they do not work.)
Moreover, whether a party is due child support (as well as how much child support should be given) depends, in part, on the custody arrangement and amount of time the parties respectively have with their child.
If the parents have joint physical custody with the child spending a substantial amount of time with each parent, and if the parents have approximately equal incomes, it is possible neither parent will have to pay support to the other. The father and mother will pay the child’s day-to-day expenses when the child is in the respective homes. The parents, however, will need to coordinate payments for major expenses such as camp, school, clothing, and insurance.
If there is a significant difference in the parents’ incomes, the parent with higher income probably will make payments to the other parent or pay more of the child’s expenses, but the amount paid probably will be less than the guideline amount because of the joint physical custody arrangement.
Therefore, even if the parents have shared physical custody of the children (and even if the custody arrangement affords both parents equal time with the child), one parent may still be obliged to pay the other parent child support because he earns more income than the other parent.