Who Pays Child Support With 50/50 Custody?

Every child custody and child support scenario has unique considerations, encompassing everything from the child’s needs to the parents’ income. However, the best interest of the child will always be a primary factor guiding the presiding court’s decisions.

If you find yourself wondering who has to pay child support in joint custody, our family lawyers can help. We will evaluate your situation and determine how to achieve the best possible arrangement for both you and your child. Call (407) 634-6604 or reach out online to schedule your free consultation.

Key Takeaways
  • To ensure fairness and proportionality, Florida courts base child support on the combined net monthly income of both parents, even in cases of joint or 50/50 custody.
  • Florida courts may refrain from awarding child support only in cases where both parents have the same income and equal parenting time, which is relatively rare.
  • Florida courts recognize certain “deviation factors” that may alter the net-monthly-income analysis.
  • Child support amounts can be modified if a parent’s income or other relevant circumstances change.

If You Have 50/50 Custody, Who Pays Child Support?

Child support is calculated individually based on each family’s unique situation. Our child support lawyers can evaluate the specifics of your case to help you reach an arrangement that works best for you and your family.

Parental Income

In most cases, the parent with a higher income will be responsible for paying child support to the other parent. In financial terms, parents with a significantly higher income can generally ensure a higher quality of life for their child, including by covering the cost of tuition, extracurriculars, health insurance, and more.

Time Spent With the Child

Joint custody is an arrangement in which separated spouses share certain rights and duties regarding the children they have together. Joint physical custody means that each parent gets to spend time with their child, though not necessarily an equal amount of time, as in a 50/50 joint custody arrangement. Joint legal custody means that both parents share certain responsibilities when it comes to raising the child.

In most cases, the amount of time you have custody over your child will not influence child support payments as much as parental income. However, there are some statutory caveats in Florida.

Under Florida Statutes § 61.30(11)(a)10, courts may adjust child support based on a time-sharing arrangement “where the child spends a significant amount of time . . . with one parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the other parent.” A “substantial amount of time” is defined as “at least 20 percent of the overnights in a year,” which translates to 73 overnight stays with one parent. This is considered a “deviation factor.”

In other words, the parent who spends more time with the child may have higher expenses associated with caring for the child. That’s why the parent with less parenting time may face higher child support obligations. If child visitation or custody arrangements change, child support may be adjusted accordingly.

Is It Possible To Pay No Child Support in Joint Custody Cases?

In cases where both parents have the same income and share child custody equally, courts may choose not to award child support so long as the best interests of the child are accounted for. This result is rare.

How Is Child Support Determined in Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody Cases?

Whether calculating 50/50 custody child support or sole custody child support, Florida courts take various factors into account, “including the needs of the child, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent.” In nearly all cases, some form of child support is awarded. The parent’s combined net monthly income will be calculated to determine minimum child support needs.

 Joint Custody Child SupportSole Custody Child Support 
DefinitionBoth parents share legal and/or physical custody of the child.One parent has primary legal and/or physical custody of the child.
Income considerationBoth parents’ incomes are taken into account when determining child support.Both parents’ incomes are taken into account, but the non-custodial parent may pay more to offset the disproportionate expenses incurred by the custodial parent.
Time spent with the childThe court will evaluate how much time the child spends with each parent.The court will take into account the number of overnight visits the child has with the other parent. This is meant to account for the expenses parents incur when they have custody for a “substantial amount of time,” as defined by statute.
Standard of livingThe court will look at the child’s standard of living before their parent’s divorce.
Parental needs and abilityThe court will consider each parent’s needs and ability to pay based on their net monthly income.

Can Child Support Payments Be Modified in Florida?

Yes, either parent can request a child support modification if a significant change in circumstances warrants it. Florida courts will review modification requests and adjust the payments accordingly to ensure they are fair and appropriate.

Changes in Income

A change in a parent’s income can impact the child support arrangement. For example, if you have 50/50 custody and one parent’s income goes up or down significantly, a change in child support may be warranted, even if parenting time does not change.

Changes in Expenses

In some cases, changes in expenses can also change child support. That can include a change in:

Alterations in Parenting Time

Over time, the amount of time you have your child in your home can change dramatically. One parent may move to an area with less desirable schools. The child may even decide that they prefer to spend most of their time at another parent’s house. When your parenting time changes, your child support obligations may also change.

Secure Your Child's Future With Expert Legal Support From the O'Mara Law Group

Determining who has to pay child support in joint custody isn’t just about ensuring that each parent pays fairly. It’s also about setting your child up for success, both now and in the future.

If you have questions about child support, including child support when you have 50/50 custody, we are here to help. Our family law attorneys handle divorces, alimony, child support, child custody, and modifications. Call (407) 634-6604 or reach out online to schedule your free consultation.

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