In almost all cases, one parent has primary custody of the couple’s children. However, when there is real shared physical custody, where the children spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the payment of child support can be greatly affected. In these cases, the amount of time the child spends with each parent is taken into account, along with their relative incomes. In a situation where custody was shared 50/50 and incomes were equal, there would likely be no child support paid by either party. Where custody and income is unequal, child support payments help balance the financial responsibilities involved in raising the children.
The fact that sharing physical custody can affect child support payments has injected a financial element into custody negotiations. Although it is a stretch, some attorneys will advise clients to increase their share of custody in order to reduce or eliminate child support payments. Aside from the fact that such advice is not based on what is in the children’s best interests, it is not financially sound. Child support payments are almost always less than the real costs associated with raising the children. Increasing your share of custody will not reduce your real expenses.