Does Joint Custody of the Child Mean No Child Support?

April 13, 2024by Adam Sacks

About 21.9 million children had a parent who lived outside their household in 2018, representing more
than one-fourth of all children under 21 years of age. [1]


What Does Joint Custody Mean?

Joint custody refers to the legal arrangement where both parents share physical and/or legal custody of their child. Physical custody involves determining where the child resides, while legal custody involves decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing, education, healthcare, and welfare.

Joint custody allows both parents to actively participate in the child’s life, promoting a shared responsibility for their overall well-being.

About 40% of states in the United States try to allow for equal time with each parent. [2]


What Does Joint Custody Mean?


Do You Pay Child Support with Joint Custody?

Joint custody does not automatically absolve either parent from the responsibility of providing financial support for their child. Child support is typically determined based on the income and financial position of each parent, regardless of custody arrangements.

In joint custody situations, child support payments are not solely dependent on which parent has primary physical custody. Various factors are taken into account to determine the financial responsibility of each parent. These factors may include the income of both parents, the percentage of time the child spends with each parent, and any additional expenses related to the child’s well-being.


What Affects the Amount Owed for Child Support in Families with Joint Custody?

Even in joint custody arrangements, child support may still be necessary to ensure an equitable distribution of costs. The court will assess the income of each parent and consider their respective financial contributions toward supporting the child’s needs.

The court may consider the expenses associated with maintaining separate households, such as mortgage/rent payments, utility bills, and other household expenses. This evaluation helps ensure that the child’s standard of living remains consistent in both households.

Child support calculations commonly factor in the everyday expenses associated with raising a child, such as education, healthcare, and necessities. If a child has unique or extraordinary needs—such as medical conditions or medical expenses, special education requirements, or extracurricular activities—a court may determine that a higher child support amount is necessary to meet these specific needs adequately.

If one parent has significantly more parenting time or incurs more expenses during their periods of custody due to factors like distance or travel costs, the child support amount may be affected accordingly.

Apart from basic financial support, child support can also encompass other essential costs associated with parenting. These expenses may include health insurance premiums, childcare fees, and extraordinary medical or educational costs. In joint custody arrangements, both parents may share these expenses to ensure the child’s well-being and development, even if the child resides primarily with one parent.


What Affects the Amount Owed for Child Support in Families with Joint Custody?


Parenting Time and Child Support Obligations

Parenting time, also known as visitation or access, refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the child. Even the parent who has less parenting time with shared custody may still have to provide child support to the custodial parent if there is a significant discrepancy in their income or if the sharing of expenses is not proportionally balanced.

The exact calculation of child support may vary by jurisdiction, but generally, it considers the income disparity between parents and the proportion of parenting time each parent receives. Each parent’s financial contributions should be proportional to their income and the time spent with the child.


Contact Sacks & Sacks experienced family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation and get the answers you need about joint custody and child support.



Q. What if we have a verbal agreement to waive child support in joint custody?

If you have a verbal agreement to waive child support in a joint custody arrangement, such agreements may not be legally binding in many jurisdictions. Courts typically require child support agreements to be formalized through a court or administrative process to ensure enforceability. Consult with a family law attorney to understand the legal implications of your verbal agreement, as the custodial parent may still have the right to seek child support in the future.

Q. Can child support be modified if there is a change in joint custody arrangements?

If the joint custody arrangement undergoes significant changes, such as one parent assuming a greater share of the child’s care or custody, it may warrant a modification of the child support order. The parent seeking the modification would need to petition the court or administrative agency responsible for child support to initiate the process. The court will assess the new custody arrangement, consider any changes in the financial circumstances of the parents, and evaluate the best interests of the child before making a decision on whether to modify the child support obligation.

Q. Can child support be waived if both parents agree to joint custody?

In some jurisdictions, child support may be waived if both parents agree to joint custody. This does not apply universally and may require approval from the court or administrative agency overseeing child support matters. In cases of joint custody, the court always prioritizes the best interests of the child, including ensuring their financial needs are met. The agreement to waive child support would need to be carefully reviewed and evaluated to ensure it aligns with the child’s welfare.



[1] Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2017. (n.d.).


by Adam Sacks

Adam Sacks is lead Family Law Attorney at Law Offices of Sacks & Sacks, P.A. in Jacksonville, Florida. He has a BA in Psychology from 1994, and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1999 from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

Sacks and Sacks Law
1646 Emerson St. Suite B Jacksonville, FL 32207

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