Is Child Support Necessary with a Joint Custody Agreement?

Even if parents have a joint custody agreement, the court may still order child support payments. Typically, joint custody agreements provide one parent with more physical custody than the other. This parent has primary custody; and as in most child support cases, the parent without primary custody is likely to pay child support.

What Is Joint Custody in Texas?

Joint custody is a court order that provides each of a child’s parents with a specified degree of physical and/or legal authority. Physical custody allows parents to live with their children and make decisions regarding living arrangements; legal custody refers to the authority to make other important decisions regarding schooling, health care, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, and others like these.

When parents have joint custody, they must make certain decisions together. If either parent has sole custody, the other parent has no authority to weigh in on decisions pertinent to that custody. If parents with joint custody fail to reach an agreement on important decisions, litigation may be necessary to settle disputes. The courts, however, generally disapprove of resorting to litigation and may alter the custody agreement to prevent further disputes.

It’s important to note, however, that Texas refers to custody matters as “conservatorship.” So, when parents have a joint custody agreement, the court may call it a “joint managing conservatorship.” Regardless of the name, the concept is fundamentally the same as it is anywhere else.

Factors That Can Affect a Child Support Order

Although child support is likely even in a joint custody situation, the amount of payment ordered can be affected by the custody agreement and a variety of other factors.

For example, physical custody can impact the weight of a child’s living expenses when calculating support payments. If the non-custodial parent has no or very little physical custody, they can expect to pay more support that takes living expenses into account.

Generally speaking, the following factors play a role in any child support order:

  • Each parent’s financial situation
  • Child’s age
  • Child’s special needs (if any)
  • Custody agreement
  • Alimony requirements
  • Child’s medical and health care expenses
  • Educational expenses
  • Cost to travel for visitation

Do You Need Legal Help?

The courts decide child custody and child support matters according to a child’s best interests. If you need help getting a fair custody agreement and/or child support calculation, Kay Polk, Attorney at Law can help.

For more information or to request an initial consultation, contact us today.