How Child Support Works When You Have Joint Custody

If you’re a parent going through a divorce, chances are that your children are at the top of your mind.

While it may take some time to figure out how to organize your and their lives in a way that works for everyone, the good news is that child support is generally straightforward in Arizona.

To help you deal with the stress you may be feeling, here are a few things you should know about how child support works when you have joint custody.

Joint custody

When you have joint physical custody, it means you and your ex-spouse share responsibility for where your children live and for their care. This can include things like buying school supplies and clothing, and taking them to school, the doctor, or other appointments.

The amount of time each of you spends taking care of your children can affect your child support order. For example, if you spend more time raising your children than your ex, you may be awarded more child support.

Keep in mind that, once the order is in place, you’ll have to petition the court for any changes. This could happen if, for example, you initially had a sole custody agreement — with one parent caring for the children — but the noncustodial parent has become more involved.

Income

When you share equal custody, the next important factor to consider is income. If you and your ex have the same adjusted gross income, then neither of you need to pay child support to each other, according to local family law firm DeShon Laraye Pullen. So, how do you know if your income is the same?

“Parties are entitled to receive tax return documents from each other every two years, until the payment duty is complete,” the law firm says. “Changes in a party’s adjusted gross income could trigger a need for an adjustment in one’s child support obligation.”

Even if you have the same income, it’s a good idea to negotiate now how you want to split unusual expenses that may come up in the future, such as medical costs or new school fees. Ensure that information goes into your divorce decree.

On the other hand, if you and your ex do not have the same income, then one parent may need to pay child support.“The idea is that a specific amount of each parent’s income should be put toward supporting the child,” DeShon Laraye Pullen says. “In general, the amounts are assigned based on the monthly adjusted gross income of the child’s parents. However, health care costs and childcare costs are also factored into the equation.”

This helps keep childcare consistent between households, in a way that works for both parents.

Child support calculator

The Arizona court system offers a child support calculator that uses your and your ex’s financial information to estimate what child support will be. This gives you an idea of what to expect, but it isn’t the definitive amount.

“The court has the final authority to determine the amount of child support awarded,” according to the Arizona Courts website.

Every divorce case is different, and a court can make varying orders, depending on the details of your situation. Hiring a local family law attorney will alleviate stress as you navigate the legalities of your divorce case. For more information and to schedule an initial consultation, visit DeShonPullenLaw.com.

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