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If we are sharing 50/50 custody of our child, why is there still child support?

Judge making decision about child custody - figure of father, mother, and child

In both Kansas and Missouri, if there are no other expenses for a child and the parents are exactly equally sharing parenting time (a 50/50 custody arrangement) and earn the exact same income, there are conceivably occasions where the child support would calculate to $0.00 per month. However, in practical effect, in most families one of the parents carries and pays for a health insurance premium, often there are child care/daycare or before and after school (and summer) care expenses for the child.

Additional Expenses to Consider

Additionally, even when a child’s custody is shared on an equal basis, there are still non-duplicated, fixed expenses for a child that needs to be covered in some fashion. Some examples of these types of expenses may include (but not be limited to):

  • Hair cuts
  • Cell phone costs
  • Seasonal clothing items; snow boots, winter jacket, or formalwear
  • School enrollment fees

For this reason, generally, these expenses need to be determined so that a child’s needs are met. Further, in most families, even if the parents have a small income disparity, it is still noteworthy enough to result in some type of calculated amount being due and owing from one parent to another.

When courts order child support, they are required to consider many factors, including:

  1. The financial needs and resources of the child;
  2. The financial resources and needs of the parents;
  3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents stayed together;
  4. The physical and emotional condition of the child and the child’s educational needs;
  5. The child’s physical and legal custody arrangements including the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the reasonable expenses associated with the custody or visitation arrangement;
  6. The reasonable work-related expenses of each parent (RSMo 452.340)

Making an Arrangement with Your Former Spouse

While it is common that the court orders child support of some amount, even in a 50/50 custody arrangement, some parents find it helpful to work out alternative or other creative arrangements to meet the child’s needs without exchanging money between them. Often this will involve the higher income earning parent covering various expenses of the child such as extracurricular and/or medical expenses.

If you are considering filing for divorce or expect to go through a custody case, contact Pingel Family Law to allow us to discuss your options and help you obtain a realistic understanding of what you can expect in terms of your child support obligation. Call today at (816) 208-8130.