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Why Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Share 50/50 Custody?

Why Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Share 50/50 Custody?

No law in Washington State provides a presumption for 50/50 child custody. However, the courts encourage joint custody in most cases when both parents are fit to have custody of their children. Even with joint custody cases, the child often lives with one parent most of the time to provide continuity and stability.

The parent who has the child most of the time is the custodial parent. After a divorce, the non-custodial parent would have the child for the remainder of the time. Joint custody allows the parents to work together to develop a time-sharing agreement that allows the children to spend as close to 50% of their time with each parent.

While it seems as if 50/50 custody would negate the need for child support, that is not the case. Even though parents have shared custody with a 50-50 split, child support is often ordered based on the parents’ incomes.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Washington State?

Regardless of the child custody split, parents are expected to contribute to the financial support of their children. Washington State uses standard child support guidelines to calculate the amount of child support. The amount of child support is based on the combined net income of the parents and the number of children to be supported.

However, judges may deviate from the base child support amount. For example, judges may consider a child’s special needs, the standard of living the child enjoyed until their parents split, and whether either parent supports children from another relationship.

Judges may consider other factors when calculating child support, including the fact that the children split their time equally between the parents. However, that factor alone is insufficient for a judge to waive child support.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Washington When Parents Have Shared 50/50 Custody?

Even though parents have shared or joint child custody, both parents are expected to provide some elements of child support. You and your ex-partner are expected to share child care, medical expenses, health insurance, and other costs for your children.

Generally, the courts calculate child support based on the child support guidelines. The judge considers other factors to determine the amount of child support. Typically, in a 50/50 shared custody arrangement, the parent with the higher income pays child support to the parent with the lower income.

However, other factors could impact who pays support and how much support is paid in a 50/50 custody arrangement. The court considers all relevant factors and decides the case based on the unique circumstances associated with that specific case.

Can Child Support Be Modified in a 50/50 Child Custody Arrangement in Spokane, WA?

Child support obligations could last for almost two decades, depending on the child’s age when support is ordered. Therefore, many changes will likely occur before the child support obligations end. Some of those changes may require modification of your child support order.

If a substantial change in circumstances occurs, the court may modify child support payments. Either parent can petition the court for a judgment modification. Therefore, it does not matter whether you pay or receive child support. If there is an unforeseeable change of circumstances, you can ask for a change in child support payments.

Examples of circumstances that could justify a modification of child support in Washington State include:

  • A significant change in income for either parent
  • A parent becomes unemployed through no fault of their own
  • A child is legally emancipated
  • A parent is required to report to active military duty
  • The child requires more care, such as an educational or medical need
  • A parent is sentenced to jail or prison
  • A parent becomes ill or sustains an injury that places them out of work
  • A new child joins the family through birth or adoption

In addition to the above, changes in primary custody arrangements can also result in a modification of child support payments. Therefore, suppose your 50/50 custody arrangement becomes a 70/30 arrangement. In that case, the court might consider the shift in parenting time as a significant change in circumstances to modify child support.

Remember, child support modifications are not retroactive. The payments change only after a court issues a modification order. It could take time to obtain an order changing child support payments, so begin the process as soon as possible to ensure you receive or pay a fair share for child support.

Changing a 50/50 child custody arrangement may or may not change child support. It would depend on several other factors. A Spokane child support lawyer can review your current situation and advise you of your options to modify child support if your 50/50 child custody arrangement changes.

Can Parents Change Child Support Payments Without a Court Order in Washington State?

If you and your spouse modify your time-sharing agreement so that it is not a 50/50 custody arrangement, you may also agree to change child support payments. However, can you do that without a court order?

Parents can agree to change how much they pay each other for child support. However, that agreement is not legally binding. The court must issue an order modifying child support for the change to be enforceable. Therefore, your spouse could change their mind and take you to court.

In the worst case, the court could rule that you are behind in child support payments. Failing to pay child support could result in several penalties, including incarceration, suspension of driving privileges, charges of contempt, and tax refund seizure. Instead of facing child support enforcement, talk with a lawyer before you fall behind in child support payments.

The best way to modify child support payments is with the help of an experienced child support lawyer in Spokane, WA. An attorney can ensure that you have a court order in place that is legally enforceable if something should happen in the future.

Contact the Washington Child Support Lawyers at Twyford Law Office To Get Legal Assistance Today

If you have questions about child support payments in Washington State, contact our child support attorneys. The lawyers at Twyford Law Office are well-versed in all aspects of child support obligations. 

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce lawyers or reach out to Twyford Law Office online by visiting our contact us page. You can also visit our office at your nearest location.

Twyford Law Office – Seattle Office
814 Second Avenue, Suite 515,
Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 590-7085

Twyford Law Office – Spokane Office
430 W Indiana Ave,
Spokane, WA 99205

(509) 327 0777

Twyford Law Office – Bellevue Office
1408 140th Pl NE Suite 400,
Bellevue, WA 98007

(425) 517-3350


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