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How Joint Custody Affects Child Support Payments

written by: Ksingh•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 8/16/2010

In all divorces cases, joint custody of the child is the ideal solution as the child receives appropriate financial as well as emotional support from both parents. Let's take a look at the situation to find out how does joint custody affect child support payments.

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    Before trying to find an answer to the question of how does joint custody affect child support payments, it is necessary to understand what exactly is meant by joint custody and how courts view child does joint custody affect child support payments 

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    Single Parent Custody

    In the conventional one parent custody arrangement, the other parent is entitled to only a restricted contact with his child, but is obliged to pay child support. However, for all practical purposes, he stays away from the child, and does not have access to the child’s academic or medical records without the express consent of the custodial parent. The child lives with the custodial parent while the other parent is allowed visitation as per court orders. Due to infrequent contacts, the child fails to develop attachment to the non-custodial parent, and this is a serious shortcoming.

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    Joint Custody

    Joint custody, popularly known as shared parenting, allows the child to live with both parents, quite often on a rotating basis for a week each. Joint custody usually means that the child spends time on a 30/70 ratio between the two parents, but in many cases, a 50/50 time-share is the norm.

    In most American states, courts favor granting joint legal custody of the child, unless the other parent declines custody, or is otherwise deemed unfit. Joint custody allows both parents to participate in major decisions affecting the child's upbringing and welfare.

    Most child psychologists believe that joint custody is in the greater interest of the child than single parent custody. The children have fewer emotional problems to cope with, reduced chances of delinquency, and better academic progress in school. (1)

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    Child’s support in Joint custody

    To the question most often asked, "how does joint custody affect child support payments," the simple answer is, joint custody has minimal impact on support. Most states do not distinguish the financial support to the child between joint custody and single parent custody. However, for the well-being of the child, a joint custody payment support system provides flexible adjustments to parents as it has an impact on the overall development of the child. One point which is important to note here is that joint custody affects child's performance positively.

    The standard norm is the more affluent parent, or the one with greater income, is obliged to pay the other one. Because both parents provide for the child custody, the payment by the parents need not always be equal. Sometimes, the payment of child support is also proportionate to the time the child spends with each parent. However, the fact remains that the material needs of the child are decidedly better met with joint custody than sole custody. The expenses are usually shared, and a mutual agreement is reached (quite often,) about the terms of financial obligations. There is no other support issue raised in joint custody. If an issue arises, the court may intercede and make the custodial arrangements in such a way that parents can communicate effectively and agree to the mutual arrangement of a payment support system.

    There is a distinction between joint legal custody and joint physical custody. While joint legal custody is more commonplace, joint physical custody is viewed differently by courts. Therefore, parents contemplating joint custody should consult a family law attorney for legal assistance.

    The present trend, however, is that most divorce cases are settled outside of court, through mediation by family law attorneys, and the terms of joint custody are worked out by both parents in a mutually acceptable manner. Joint custody is also favored by mothers who are in full time employment, as they might not be able to devote adequate time to caring for the child. Judges seldom interfere with any amicable settlement reached outside the court.

    Image Credit: Divorce Your Speed -

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