How does child support work when parents share custody?

| Aug 14, 2018 | Family Law

When one parent has primary custody of children after a divorce, the noncustodial parent is often ordered to pay child support to help the custodial parent pay for the children’s housing, food, clothing, school supplies, extracurricular expenses and more.

However, what if parents share custody of their children? Is it still necessary for one parent to pay child support to the other? If so, who should pay whom? Parents who share custody of their children may reach an agreement on their own, with their attorneys’ help, regarding their financial obligations to their kids.

Each parent may agree to pay for the child’s expenses when the kids are with them. However, there are on-going needs like school fees, medical bills and clothing that follow children regardless of which house they’re living in. It may be best for one parent to pay some amount of child support to the other on a regular basis.

When courts determine who pays child support and how much, each parent’s income is usually a key factor. In our state, child support is usually based on the Tennessee Basic Child Support Obligation Schedule. Child support is intended to cover basic needs as well as things like “extraordinary educational needs” and extracurricular expenses like those involved in sports and music lessons. Things like child care and travel expenses may also be factored in.

Whatever agreement parents reach or is ordered by the court, it’s always best when parents track and communicate about what expenses they’ve each covered and when reimbursement is needed. Even if parents are sharing in the financial support of their children, it’s best that the arrangement is codified in a legal document.

This can help prevent confusion and conflict, particularly if unforeseen circumstances arise. No child should be placed in the middle of a child support battle between their parents.

Your Tennessee family law attorney can help you understand the state’s child support formula and work to protect your interests and — most importantly — your children’s interests.

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