Joint Custody and Child Support

Joint Custody and Child Support has evolved significantly over time. Previously, mothers typically gained custody post-divorce, with fathers paying child support. Today, joint custody, with both parents sharing responsibilities, is more prevalent. Many parents question how this fifty-fifty arrangement impacts child support, often mistakenly assuming child support laws are now obsolete. This blog dispels these misconceptions, explaining how parents contribute to shared parenting and child support arrangements to uphold the child’s pre-divorce lifestyle.

Times have changed. These days, joint custody, with both mother and father sharing equal custody, is becoming more common. Many parents wonder how this fifty-fifty arrangement affects child support, and some are under the mistaken impression that child support laws no longer apply. Both parents contribute to a shared parenting schedule and child support arrangement, aiming to maintain the child’s pre-divorce standard of living.

Calculating Child Support

In the State of Florida, both parents are responsible for child support. An important factor in determining which parent pays what portion is their respective income. The court determines the support amount, calculating each parent’s support obligation based on their income and financial resources.

Another way to determine child support is the number the nights or actual time the child spends with each parent. Issues that will also factor into joint custody support payment are healthcare costs, daycare, insurance, tax deductions, and the child’s basic monthly expenses.

Can there be No Child Support?

A Florida court cannot award “no support.” However, while probably rare, there are instances of joint custody when there is no child support due. This can happen when both parents earn the same income, spend approximately the same amount of time with the child, and have agreed in the custody agreement that neither one owes the other child support. In certain cases, courts may rule that no child support payments are necessary.

When is Child Custody NOT Fifty-Fifty?

Most courts prefer joint custody, considering it beneficial for the child’s interest. However, parents should understand that the court can modify this agreement. It isn’t final and may not always serve the child’s best interests.

Reasons for modifying a joint custody agreement can be a parental history of abuse and/or neglect, substance abuse, or mental health issues. 

While joint custody usually favors the child’s best interest, exceptions exist. For example, if one parent is incarcerated or has moved out of the child’s home state, the other parent gets sole physical custody.

However, even if one parent has primary physical custody, the court will likely approve and encourage interaction with the other parent to allow a positive relationship to develop.

Payment of Child Support

In the State of Florida, the parents can agree to how the exchange of child support will happen. Parents have the option of requesting the Court for an Income Withholding Order (IWO), which requires the employer of the parent paying child support to deduct the child support amount from that parent’s paycheck. An IWO ensures all payments go to the State of Florida Disbursement Unit, which monitors all payments and non-payments.


In the event of a divorce, the Florida courts make every attempt to provide parents with joint custody of their children, and both parents are responsible for child support payments. Calculations for these payments depend on various factors. Consulting with a Florida family law attorney is advisable.

Remember, the term “parents” includes both married and unmarried individuals. Single parents share similar child responsibilities as divorced parents.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

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