Many spouses think that if there is joint custody of a child, meaning both parents have physical and legal custody, that they should not have to pay child support, or rather, child support should not be ordered by the court. In fact, this is often a reason spouses will push for shared custody, thinking that it will alleviate them from having to potentially pay child support. This thinking is flawed because of the fact that joint legal custody doesn’t tend to impact child support; only physical custody affects this.
Moreover, joint physical custody does not negate the possibility or the obligation of paying child support. Even if the two parents evenly split the custody time, sooner or later one spouse will inevitably owe some child support. This is because of the fact that the two parents earn significant different amounts, and also spend different amounts of time with the child or children.
So if the custody is shared equally, why there is still a child support obligation? Because child support payment isn’t solely based on how much time each parent spends with the child; that is only one small part of the equation. When courts award child support payments, they are also considering the income of each parent. So, it usually turns out to be that the parent with the higher income will owe child support.
It can sometimes be forgotten that the true and only purpose for child support is to ensure that the child has the proper funds and will be taken care of adequately, and who the child stays with the majority of the time is irrelevant to this.