Are Child Support Payments Required If You Have Joint Custody?

If you are going through a divorce – or have recently gone through one – you likely have questions about custody arrangements and child support. There may even be some confusion as to who – if anyone – should pay child support. But while you may have your own opinions, the law has some very clear guidelines in place on this matter.

Individuals are under the misconception that sharing joint custody of the children means that each parent will split their time with their children 50/50 and that child support is not required. But this is rarely the case. According to Federal Child Support Guidelines, whichever parent earns more income is required to pay the net difference as outlined by the Guideline’s Table amounts. 

Even if you have a separation agreement that states otherwise, this agreement could still be overruled by a family court judge. So how does the law treat child support arrangements when there is joint custody? For this, we must look to the Divorce Act.

According to the Divorce Act, any children of the marriage must receive a reasonable level of support from each parent regardless of custody arrangements. These arrangements must be made before the divorce is granted.

Shared custody

Shared custody is not necessarily a 50/50 split, but rather the Divorce Act defines it as when a co-parent has physical custody or the right to access to the child at least 40% of the time during the year. In terms of child support payments in this arrangement, there are three factors that need to be considered.

These factors are:

  • The child support amounts outlined in the applicable tables.
  • The costs of the custody arrangements
  • The conditions, means and needs of the co-parent and any children that are part of the arrangement.

If the parents are sharing an equal 50/50 custody of the children, the Court would normally order the higher income earner parent to pay at least some child support equal to the net difference in the table amounts. There may be special circumstances where this would not apply, but these cases are very rare.

What if you are paying child support and your income changes?

If you are currently paying child support and you lose your job or get put on temporary layoff, the Courts will generally recognize this and reduce the amount of child support you will have to pay. The caveat is however that you cannot simply stop paying. You need to make an application to the Court to make it official.

If you are unsure of how to do this, you should get in touch with a good family lawyer who can help you.

What if I have a dispute with my ex about custody or child support?

Most disagreements between co-parents can be settled outside of Court but you should still work with a family lawyer to ensure that all of the necessary legal documents are in place. Oftentimes these issues can be settled through mediation.

This process is generally quicker and much less expensive than taking these matters to Court. Even if you do not go to Court however, it is imperative that each party have their own lawyer to help ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.

Unfortunately, in rare circumstances where the two parties cannot come to an agreement you may need to go to family court in order to settle an issue.

Contact us today

If you are going through a divorce or separation and you need help negotiating custody or child support arrangements, contact us today to speak with one of our family lawyers.

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