Sharing custody of children does not necessarily mean that neither parent pays child support. States have different ways of determining child support when custody is shared. In Tennessee, calculating child support takes both parents’ income into account when they have joint custody. The calculation for joint custody uses how much time the child spends at each parent’s home to reach a final figure. This approach varies from state to state, and some states will not calculate child support for parents who share custody.
In some cases, parents may avoid this by simply having a verbal agreement regarding child custody. However, there are benefits to making sure parents pay child support. It can be better for a child’s well-being and help with a child’s overall adjustment.
In determining child support in joint custody situation, a court may look at several factors including each parent’s ability to establish a separate housing situation for the child. The court may also look at whether a joint custody situation is creating additional expenses for the parent. Examples of these types of expenses might include transportation, extra clothing or additional costs for child care. It may be helpful for parents to track expenses as part of their parenting agreement and make adjustments as needed.
One advantage of having a formal legal agreement instead of a verbal agreement is that it gives each parent a legal remedy if the other parent fails to follow the terms of the agreement. If one parent stops paying support or delivering the child on time and there is a formal custody and child support agreement, the courts can step in to enforce that agreement. A parent is not permitted to deny another parent time with the child if that parent does not pay custody, but the court may use other methods to get support from the parent.