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Understanding Child Support in Joint Custody Cases

Child support and custody is usually one of Utah’s most significant and most complex portions of divorce. This is because no two cases are alike, and outcomes depend on various factors. Many parents have assumptions about joint custody and, therefore, child support payments. For example, it may make sense to some to assume that if both parents share 50/50 custody of their children, then neither parent should have to pay child support. This is not always the case, as many factors determine child support obligations, apart from just physical custody. Below are some of the primary considerations to make when discussing child support expectations with your family law attorney.

Establishing Joint Custody

In general, family courts have changed considerably since the 1960s. Standards and even guidelines no longer operate under outdated assumptions. For example, most custody agreements were catered to achieving an outcome where mothers had their children 26 days each month.

On the other hand, fathers would only have their children stay with them every other weekend. This standard would arise because it was a “societal norm” for fathers to work a full-time job, while mothers would stay at home to be a homemaker and take care of the children. It could also be argued that some judges had the prejudice that mothers are more fitted and natural caregivers than fathers.

These days it is more understood that women are just an essential part of the workforce than men. Naturally, is it just as likely for a mother to have a viable full-time career as a father. It is also understood that children benefit more from seeing and interacting with both parents equally. Excluding, of course, if one parent cannot provide proper care for their children due to illness, negligence, or even criminal activity. Some states even have legislation that handles child custody matters in a presumed 50-50 split custody framework.

How Is Child Support Established?

Ideally, joint physical custody can be established in an equal manner. This helps to provide more stability for children that a part of a family that has gone through a divorce. However, just because the child lives with both parents in the same amount does not necessarily mean that neither parent will need to pay child support. Remember that these agreements are in place to help ensure that the children do not unduly suffer because of the divorce. This includes losing opportunities or experiencing a loss in their quality of life.

The financial ability and stability of both parents is taken into account. So too is the expected monthly cost of providing all the children’s basic needs. If one parent makes substantially more than the other, there is a higher likelihood that child support rules will be put into place. With that said, having joint physical custody will decrease the amount or possibility of a mandated child support order. On one final note, it is essential to note that child support is designed to ensure that the children are adequately supported, regardless of which parent they are living with at the time.

If you have a child support agreement that is older and no longer matches the situation of each parent, you may need to modify your support agreement. This is common when one parent loses a job and makes less money than before. On the other hand, a parent may get a significant promotion and may no longer need the same level of child support once received.

Contact us today if you live in Utah and would like to learn more about child support and what an attorney can do for you.

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