When parents in Ohio decide to divorce or separate, an increasing number are opting for joint custody arrangements in which the children spend a roughly equal amount of time with each parent. Because neither parent has primary custody, both parents may wonder how joint custody will affect child support obligations. In a joint custody situation, both parents share the everyday financial and practical responsibilities of child-raising. Joint custody situations are handled differently in family court than primary custody family situations.
Joint custody does not necessarily eliminate child support obligations. In some cases, especially if the parents have similar financial situations and incomes, child support may not be ordered if each parent has the child 50 percent of the time. However, other states may assess a child support obligation based on the standard formula against each parent and then divide that number in half. By comparing the two sums, one parent may be directed to provide support to the other, especially in cases where there is an extreme disparity and the child's lifestyle would be drastically different at both parents' homes. In either case, the child support obligation would be far less than if one parent had primary custody.
If this formula produces an unfair result, the court is authorized to use discretion to create a child support order that is fair to both parties. In addition, some parents can make written or oral agreements about how child support will be handled, including regular payments and special expenses.
Parents who are separating or divorcing often want to remain close to their children. When parents can work together in a joint custody situation, child support payments might still be beneficial to the children. A family law attorney may be able to advise parents about how they can develop a successful parenting plan.