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Does either parent pay child support when custody is split 50/50?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2023 | Family Law |

These days shared physical custody is becoming more common when parents are no longer in a relationship with one another. Some parents even share physical custody 50/50. They each have the child in their physical care half of the time, and thus are financially supporting the child 50% of the time.

So, does mean one parent does not have to pay child support to the other?

Traditional child custody arrangements

It used to be the case that when parents were no longer in a relationship, one parent would almost always have primary physical custody of the child and the other parent would have visitation periods. The parent with visitation periods paid child support to the parent with primary physical custody.

Child support in this manner was meant to ensure both parents were contributing financially to the costs associated with raising a child. The custodial parent was paying for the child’s needs by having the child in their physical care, and the noncustodial parent contributed to these costs by making regular child support payments.

Child support in a shared custody arrangement

These days there are many options for time-sharing when it comes to physical custody. Sometimes each parent has physical custody of the child 50% of the time. When both parents are spending an equal amount of time paying for the child’s needs, does this make the payment of child support moot?

Child support may still be necessary, even if custody is split 50/50. This is because child support depends on more than just who has primary custody of the child. Each parent’s income and monthly expenses are also considered when child support is awarded.

The goal is for the child to experience the same standard of living they enjoyed before their parents broke up. So, if one parent earns significantly more than the other, they may have to pay child support even in a shared custody arrangement. This way, the child experiences the same standard of living at both parents’ homes.