Does 50/50 Custody Eliminate Child Support Payments?
Going through a divorce when you have children is legally complicated and often emotionally challenging. There are many factors to consider, such as who will make choices regarding the child’s schooling and medical needs, where the child will live, and who will pay child support and how much.
Some individuals may push for a 50/50 custody agreement because they believe it will negate the need for child support since each parent has equal time with the child. An experienced Texas family law attorney can explain why this is not necessarily true. If you have concerns about child support or other aspects of a conservatorship for your child in Texas, our skilled lawyers can assist you in negotiating a custody plan that fits your unique family situation and needs.
What is a 50/50 Custody Schedule?
Texas law refers to child custody as conservatorship. Typically, both parents will be named as joint managing conservators of their child by the court unless there is a compelling reason why one parent should have sole conservatorship. Under joint conservatorship, both parents have the right to make certain important decisions for the child and will share in parenting duties.
However, even in a joint managing conservatorship, one parent is usually given the right to determine where their child should live. This parent is known as the custodial parent. The custodial parent usually has physical custody of the child for more time than the other parent.
In a 50/50 custody schedule, both parents get equal physical custody of their child. The logistics of such an agreement can be complicated, however, and courts are sometimes hesitant to allow 50/50 custody unless it can be shown to be in the child’s best interests.
How is Child Support Determined in Texas?
Many believe that child support is tied to the amount of time the child spends with each parent. But according to the guidelines set forth in the Texas Family Code § 153.138 (2022), the court is actually not limited by the child custody agreement when ordering one or both parents to pay child support. Instead, the court usually calculates child support based on state guidelines and considers the child’s needs and best interests.
A 50/50 custody agreement can easily end up with one parent still paying child support if that parent has more income than the other. When one parent has a higher income, it’s not unusual for a Court to expect them to provide more resources toward the financial needs of their child.
However, these are just general guidelines, and the court has the discretion to make adjustments based on the specific situation and needs of the child. A skilled Texas child support lawyer can assist you in negotiating a child support agreement that is beneficial to all parties involved. You also have the right to petition the court if you believe the amount of child support has been calculated incorrectly or unfairly.
When Should You Opt for a 50/50 Custody Arrangement?
If the elimination of child support is not a guaranteed outcome of a 50/50 custody agreement, are there circumstances that would still warrant this type of structured custody? It all depends on your co-parenting goals. For some parents, it is incredibly important to have equal time with their children and share equal responsibility in all parenting tasks.
The challenge of a 50/50 custody agreement is ensuring that the child has a stable environment and can get into a routine even while frequently switching between each parent. Creating stability can be hard to manage, but some parents achieve it by living close together or even having one home where the children stay while the parents come in and out on a schedule.
Just be aware that 50/50 custody may not be the best choice for everyone because it generally involves close communication, flexibility in your schedule, and an amicable relationship with your ex. Our child custody lawyers can help you evaluate your goals and determine a realistic custody arrangement that meets your needs.
Does the Court Have to Be Involved in Child Support Decisions?
If you are not comfortable placing the determination of your child support into the hands of the court, you have other options. You are within your legal rights to negotiate with the other parent and draft or modify your own child support agreement. This written agreement must then be presented to the court for approval.
The court will generally approve a negotiated agreement as long as it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests. If the court has issues with your child support agreement, you may be asked to submit a revised agreement, or else the court may render its own order. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help make this process easier and ensure that you reach the best possible outcome in your case.
Child support is a significant concern for many parents when setting up their custody agreements. Getting it right and finding an arrangement that works for you and your child is crucial. Contact our helpful child custody lawyers today to schedule an initial case evaluation.