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.


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

“I learned so much from you about law and life and I carry those lessons with me always. This A-, which turned into my first law school ‘A’ grade, would not have been possible without you. I love you, boss, and am so lucky you hired me!” – Asha Vora

At our law firm, we continue to believe that our success begins and ends with our devoted staff who we consider family. They possess an unwavering commitment to not only succeed, but also improve the lives of our clients.

DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC is proud to announce our latest staff recognition awards: Employee of the Month and Genius of the Month.

The Employee of the Month award is for those who served as a role model that goes above and beyond. Beyond doing their own job, they help co-workers while collaborating with their own team members to resolve client issues. Simply put, they serve as a role model for their peers.

Our Genius of the Month award is designated for an employee who suggests a best practice that potentially that increases productivity and efficiency while improving the way we do business and practice law. To receive the award, the employee’s proposed best practice must be thoroughly tested and successfully implemented.

While our attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC care more about achieving our clients’ family law goals than anything else, it is always nice to be recognized for our hard work. Especially when that recognition comes from an organization dedicated to raising the standards of the legal profession nationwide.

We are honored to announce that our firm’s owner and founder, DeShon L. Pullen, has been added to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel’s 2016 Nation’s Top One Percent list. The list represents American lawyers who consistently elevate the standards of legal work, and set a strong example for their colleagues.

October is one of our favorite months of the year at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC. We work very hard for our clients, so our attorneys and staff like to have fun when the opportunity presents itself. October is a time when we’re sure to fit some fun into our busy schedule.

Below, we listed some of the biggest reasons we love October in Arizona. What do you love about this time of year?

We are closing out Women’s History Month by continuing our tribute to impactful women in the legal realm. For the first part of our series, click here.

Lyda Burton Conley became the first female Native American attorney in the U.S. (1910). Conley was not admitted to a law school, but self-taught.

Frances Allen was the first woman to serve as an assistant prosecutor (1919). She later became the first female with an Article III Appellate Judgeship.

Florence Ellinwood Allen is elected to the Ohio Supreme Court (1922), the first woman to become elected to any state’s highest court. In 1934, President Roosevelt appoints her to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

March is Women’s History Month, designed to pay tribute to generations of women whose contributions are invaluable to society and the planet. At Deshon Laraye Pullen PLC, we would like to highlight some of the brave and brilliant women in the legal realm.

These are colorful and remarkable characters! We encourage you to read about each woman, even if you have never heard of her before.

The founder of Citadel LLC, a company estimated to be worth $20 billion, has filed for divorce from his wife. This was a second marriage for the founder, and his wife is a former manager for a hedge fund. The two had been married for 11 years and have children under the age of 6. The four-page petition for divorce, which was filed by the founder, asks for joint custody of the children. According to the lawyers for the man, the two signed a prenuptial agreement in 2003. Citadel will likely be excluded from any property division associated with the divorce.

A nationally known educator and author recently addressed the topic of divorce on public radio. We have all heard the statistics in Arizona that about half of all marriages are said to end in divorce. Indeed, it is estimated that 10 percent of marriages will end before the fifth anniversary. About 25 percent will face divorce before the tenth anniversary. With such significant numbers, some suggestions about how to approach the possibility that it may happen may be helpful.

The educator noted that many couples do not want to talk about divorce at the beginning of their marriage because it can sometimes seem self-defeating to many. However, that may be the best time to address financial issues. She observed that those couples who are able to communicate about these issues from a cooperative standpoint may be able to fashion an agreement that protects both parties in the event a divorce does result. It may help to consider a prenuptial agreement much in the way one might plan to make a last will.

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