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Joint Custody and Child Support: What You Need to Know

Posted by LEISA WINTZ | Oct 09, 2023 | 0 Comments

A child holding hands with their parents

When it comes to child custody arrangements, joint custody, often referred to as shared custody, is a common choice for parents who want to ensure both are actively involved in their child's life. However, the question of child support can make joint custody arrangements more complex. In this article, we'll delve into the world of joint custody and child support, exploring the intricacies of this arrangement, how it works in Florida, and whether child support is required in such cases.

Understanding Joint Custody in Florida

In the state of Florida, joint custody is known as shared parental responsibility. This legal framework promotes the active involvement of both parents in making major decisions about their child's upbringing. These decisions typically revolve around areas like education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities.

Joint custody doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split of physical time with the child. Instead, it's about both parents having an equal say in the important aspects of their child's life. The physical custody arrangement can vary widely, from one parent having the child the majority of the time to a more balanced sharing of physical custody.

Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody: A Key Distinction

It's crucial to distinguish between sole custody and joint custody when discussing child support. In sole custody arrangements, one parent has physical and legal custody of the child, and the other parent typically pays child support. In joint custody, both parents share the legal responsibilities of decision-making, and the physical custody arrangement can vary.

Child Support in Joint Custody Arrangements

Child support can still be a part of joint custody arrangements. However, it's essential to understand that joint custody doesn't automatically negate child support obligations. Child support calculations in Florida consider several factors, including each parent's income, the number of overnights the child spends with each parent, healthcare costs, childcare expenses, and more.

The amount of child support in joint custody cases is not solely determined by the number of overnights each parent has with the child. Instead, it's a comprehensive calculation based on various financial and custodial factors. These factors may include:

  1. Income Disparities: The court considers the income of both parents. If one parent earns significantly more than the other, they may be responsible for a larger portion of the child's financial support.
  2. Overnight Stays: The number of overnights each parent has with the child is taken into account but doesn't necessarily lead to a dollar-for-dollar adjustment in child support.
  3. Childcare Costs: If one parent pays for childcare while the other is at work, this can affect child support calculations.
  4. Healthcare Expenses: The costs of health insurance and medical care for the child are considered.
  5. Educational Expenses: Expenses related to the child's education, such as tuition or tutoring, can also impact child support calculations.

Agreeing to Modify Child Support

In some cases, parents in joint custody arrangements may agree to modify or even forgo child support payments. It's important to note that any such agreements must be approved by the court. If both parents genuinely agree that child support is not necessary, they can petition the court for a modification of the child support order. However, the court will evaluate whether this decision is in the best interest of the child before making any adjustments.

Navigating joint custody and child support can be intricate and emotionally charged. It's crucial to understand the legal nuances and ensure that the rights and well-being of both parents and children are protected. If you find yourself facing questions or challenges related to joint custody, seeking the guidance of an experienced family law attorney is a wise step. Our team at Family Matters is here to provide the expertise and support you need during this complex process. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you secure the best possible outcome for your family's future. Your peace of mind and your children's future are too important to leave to chance.

About the Author


Leisa Wintz originally began her career as a marriage and family therapist. Ms. Wintz went on to attend law school and started practicing family law in 2009. However, she quickly realized that many family law practices lacked the empathy and compassion she believed were necessary in order to achi...


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