Do You Have to Pay Child Support If You Have 50-50 Custody?

If you find yourself in a place in your life where you are seriously contemplating divorce, or if you are currently going through a divorce, you may feel as if you have a million things on your mind, and this is entirely understandable. Stated simply, divorce isn’t easy. In fact, at times, it can be very overwhelming. In addition to the pain and emotional turmoil you may feel regarding the end of your marriage, chances are high that you may also be feeling very mentally overloaded. After all, there are a number of issues to consider as you go through the divorce process.

For many people, however, there are perhaps no issues more important or more emotional for many parents than the issues that pertain to their children. Having practiced family law for many years, we have seen firsthand that the majority of our clients, like all parents everywhere, want what is best for their children, first and foremost. More than any issues concerning who gets which piece of property or how much alimony is awarded, or who gets what share of any particular investment account or pension, we have seen over and over again that parents are often focused first on ensuring that the transitions associated with their divorce go as smoothly as possible for their children. This is understandable, and of course, very important for all families.

As parents attempt to navigate their way through the often complex legal issues of child custody and child support, it can certainly be confusing. Many parents seek to reach a custody arrangement that works best for their family. After all, most parents who are involved and active in their children’s lives want to continue to spend as much time as possible with their children, even after the divorce has been finalized. Fortunately, today, in greater numbers than ever before, couples across the country are successfully working together to create custody agreements that suit the needs of their particular families. In truth, parents know their children far better than a judge ever could, and if they are able to work together to create an agreement on a custody arrangement that works well with their lifestyle, this is the ideal route to pursue.

Often, this results in a shared custody arrangement between the two parents. If such an arrangement can be worked out amicably and in a way that works for the schedule of both parents and children alike, it can be a wonderful choice. After entering into this sort of arrangement, however, other issues also remain to be addressed – one of which is child support. One question we commonly receive concerns the amount of child support that one parent might owe to the other in a shared custody (also called joint physical care) arrangement. Often, we are asked: If custody is truly shared evenly between the parents, does either parent owe child support at all? To understand the answer to this question, it is important to broadly understand the child support obligations that each parent generally has according to the law.

Child Support in Iowa

It is important for parents to understand that, in Iowa, both parents are considered to have an equal responsibility to support their children. Of course, this doesn’t mean that each parent will be responsible for paying the exact same amount of money. Obviously, that will vary based upon a number of factors like income and the time a parent spends having the child in his or her custody being the primary two factors considered.

Typically, if one parent is the primary custodian of the child, the other parent is generally ordered to make child support payments to that parent. Certainly, the amount of the support payment will be based on income, but this is generally the arrangement and the support obligation will, of course, vary according to the number of children being supported. The exact amount of payment to be made is determined by applying the uniform child support guidelines prescribed by the Iowa Supreme Court. In applying those guidelines, the state seeks to ensure that the best interests of the children are provided for by requiring parents to provide support according to their respective incomes.

In a shared custody situation, this same rule generally applies. The parent with the greater income still typically pays support to the parent that makes less income. Thus, if one parent makes $200,000 a year while the other parent only makes $50,0000 a year, the parent making significantly more will still be required to make child support payments to the parent earning considerably less. While this is true, the amount will typically be adjusted insofar as the parent making the greater income will be required to pay less than he or she would if that parent did not have the child for half the time.

Of course, in this situation, as with any complex divorce matter, certain factors particular to your personal circumstances may play an important role in the determination of your ultimate support obligation. As a result, it is always important to discuss these matters with qualified and experienced counsel.

Call 303 Legal P.C. for your Family Law Needs Today

At 303 Legal, we understand the complexities of divorce law. In fact, we have many years of experience successfully representing clients just like you in a wide variety of divorce-related matters. Because of that, we also understand firsthand the stress and strain that divorce can place on a family’s life. While we cannot remove that stress entirely, we can help to reduce it by providing excellent professional representation on the issues that matter most to you, including matters of child support and custody, among many others. When you are going through a divorce, you have plenty to worry about as it is. Allow us to handle the legal matters for you so that you can focus on helping your family through this transition and toward the next new chapter of your lives. Call us today. We look forward to helping you soon.