How Is Child Support Determined When the Parents Have Joint Custody?

In New York, courts determining child support aim to balance equitably the financial responsibilities of parenting. A complexity arises when parents share physical custody of their child with an approximately equal distribution of parenting time. Under such circumstances, there can be a twist to the traditional model of designating a custodial and a non-custodial parent for child support purposes.

Child support is typically determined using the guidelines set by the Child Support Standards Act. Both parents are expected to contribute to the costs associated with raising their children in proportion to their respective incomes. However, a court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines in appropriate circumstances. Support is usually paid to the parent with primary physical custody, but imposing the guideline-derived amount on the higher-earning parent, without considering the equal parenting roles, could result in an unjust division of resources. Thus, the court takes into account several factors to arrive at an appropriate child support obligation.

The first factor considered is the financial resources of each parent. This encompasses not only their current income but also their potential to earn, their assets and their overall ability to contribute to the financial needs of the child. This comprehensive assessment ensures that the support order reflects the true capacity of each parent to support their child.

Second, the court examines the physical and emotional needs of the child. This factor is paramount, as the primary objective of child support is to safeguard the well-being of the child. This includes considering the child’s health care, education, day-to-day living expenses and any special needs.

Third, any non-monetary contributions by the parents towards caring for the child are taken into account. This recognizes that parenting involves much more than financial contributions and that these non-financial aspects play a vital role in the child’s development and well-being. Activities such as involvement in the child’s educational journey, extracurricular activities and overall time spent with the child are considered.

Finally, the court considers any extraordinary expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent in exercising visitation. This may include travel expenses for visiting the child or costs related to facilitating visitation, such as providing a suitable living space for the child during visits. 

The determination of child support in New York in the context of joint custody is a complex process of balancing the financial contributions required of both parents towards their child’s upbringing. An experienced family law attorney can help devise a support arrangement best geared to your particular family and economic situation. 

The Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. in Rochester assists parents in New York child support matters, including adjustments due to child custody situations. Call us at 585-563-1134 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.


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